Pennsylvania Dower Chest, ca. 1835

Value (2013) | $4,000$6,000

The original story goes that it was originally brought over in 1742 from Switzerland and then it's been passed down from the eldest living son who has a son.

And one of the great things about this piece is that it has inside the frakturs of Johannes Yoder and his wife, Anna Zug, Z-U-G. Interesting by this point that the frakturs were printed and then filled in because earlier, these were done completely by hand. But that says something about the Industrial Revolution. 1835 was in the midst of the age of Jackson. The westward frontier was moving. And Johannes Yoder lived in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania-- north central part of the state. Both of them born, he in 1815, she in 1816, and then both baptized in August of 1834. Hence, I would interpret this as meaning this is a dower chest and they were probably married in 1835, shortly after their baptisms. Quite frankly, I don't think this piece came over from Switzerland. It's made of American white pine. Stylistically and in terms of decoration, it was probably made about the time of the marriage in 1835. So that we have this great example of a Pennsylvania dower chest decorated with this sponge decoration, and even has here on the drawers the original hardware-- we call them the pulls-- made out of clear pressed glass. I think at the end of the 19th century, people tried to put furniture back on the Mayflower coming over. What is remarkable is that this is much more valuable as an 1835 Pennsylvania chest than it would be as an 18th-century Swiss chest. Because of the frakturs, the family ownership placing it in middle Pennsylvania, a piece of furniture that's come west slightly into Ohio, I would think on the market today, this piece could bring between $10,000 and $12,000.

(chuckling) Okay.

Thank you for bringing it in. It's a great family heirloom and a document of westward migration and the importance of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Update (2013)
Appraised value (1999)
Columbus, OH (August 14, 1999)

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