English Chest, ca. 1800

Value (2004) | $2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction

This piece was purchased by my grandfather in the late 1940s in Savannah, Georgia. He acquired it from a dealer in Savannah. I've asked my mother; she doesn't recall the name of the dealer.

Now, what do you know about the chest? What has your mother told you about it?

Well, the dealer in Savannah had indicated it was an American chest. And they called it a bowfront chest because of the shape of the front being bowed outwards, that it's a period piece from the 18th century, but I don't know really much else about it.

The bowfront chest was a very popular form of furniture in England and in America in the late 1700s, around 1790 to maybe 1810 to 1820. And they're very practical chests. One of the nice features about this one is it's so tall that you really have a lot of drawer space. One unfortunate thing is that it is an English chest and not an American chest.

Oh, I didn't know that.

Yes, and it is from the Hepplewhite period. In England they would call it late George III, because he was the reigning monarch during that period. The reason I can tell that it is English is because of the secondary wood in the drawers. When I opened it, you can see that the sides of the drawers are oak, and in America they would be pine or poplar. Also I checked to see if the brasses were original. You can see that they're not. There's an extra hole in the center, and that's where the original handles would have been, and they would have been wooden handles on a piece from this period in England. But it is made out of mahogany, it's a wonderful chest, great wood, a little bit of inlay here, very splashy inlay. The keyholes are called escutcheons, and that's where you would've locked the drawers to put your valuables in. The wonderful thing about these chests is they're so useful. They were very popular during the period, and the English ones, such as this one, will bring $2,000 to $3,000. An American one would probably bring from... anywhere from $2,000 up to $10,000 depending on how fine it was.

Appraisal Details

Northeast Auctions
Portsmouth, NH
Appraised value (2004)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)
Mahogany , Oak

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