Virginia Sugar Chest, ca. 1820

Value (2012) | $4,500$5,000
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APPRAISER:
So you brought in this little chest here. And you told me that it was given to you...it was a gift, actually, from a friend.

GUEST:
Yes, it was a gift from a very elderly friend. She left it to me when she died.

APPRAISER:
And did your friend tell you what it was, what the piece was?

GUEST:
She said it was a very old piece and it was made in Virginia, and that's about all she knew about it.

APPRAISER:
I mean, because you had mentioned earlier that it might have been for wine or something like that.

GUEST:
I thought that's what it was for.

APPRAISER:
Because you have these compartments inside. Well, let me ask you, do you like sugar? Do you use sugar or Sweet'n Low in your coffee?

GUEST:
Neither.

APPRAISER:
Neither? Well, if you lived in the 18th century and you didn't mind sugar, this would be a chest you'd really want to have, because this is actually a Virginia sugar chest.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yes. They're very desirable items. And these compartments inside, they're actually to store the cones, the sugar cones. And that sugar was a valuable commodity, and you needed a storage place for it. So it was kept in these sugar chests, made through Virginia and other parts of the South. And this is a very nice example of one. The reason it's locked is that it was valuable. It was really a commodity. And it was to keep prying hands away, that...people who had a sweet tooth, not like yourself, right? You wouldn't have been a problem, because you don't like sugar.

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
I want to tell you that this is made in Virginia, probably around 1820 or so, okay? It has yellow pine secondary wood. We can see this nice chamfering on the bottom. So it's really...this is an absolutely authentic piece. Some other sugar might have been stored in here, but maybe some accouterments to cut sugar. They used these clippers to cut the cones. If we put the drawer back in and just spin around slowly, we can see the back. And this is nicely done, all hand-done. And this is set back from the post, which is a typical Southern or typical Virginia characteristic. Do you know what the primary wood is, the main wood of the piece, Sarah?

GUEST:
I thought it was walnut.

APPRAISER:
That's right, you got it-- it's walnut. It's beautiful wood.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
I think, Sarah, that these legs are quite short, and actually, even though you have this nice color coming up, I think that they've probably been shortened by about an inch to an inch and a half. Do you want to know how much it's worth?

GUEST:
I would love to know.

APPRAISER:
Okay, sugar chests are very desirable. And collectors, especially collectors of Southern furniture, want to have a Virginia sugar chest or a Kentucky sugar chest. This is a nice example, and I'd say that this piece is worth about $4,500.

GUEST:
That's great, that's wonderful.

APPRAISER:
You pretty happy?

GUEST:
Yeah, I think that's wonderful.

APPRAISER:
It's good you didn't sell it.

GUEST:
But I think I'll keep it.

APPRAISER:
You think you’ll keep it?

GUEST:
I think so.

APPRAISER:
Good.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Keno Auctions
New York, NY
Update (2012)
$4,500$5,000
Appraised value (1998)
$4,500$5,000
Event
Richmond, VA (August 28, 1998)
Period
19th Century
Form
Chest
Material
Walnut

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