- Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 00:00
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An old Northern Neck family has treasured this chest for several generations. It is burl mahogany, laid out in a pattern across the three lower drawer fronts. The pulls are original, and the ends are paneled. The marble top with its serpentine front that is replicated in the three small upper drawers is in excellent condition. Unfortunately, it shows the filled holes, which previously were the openings for dowels that supported glove boxes and a mirrored back.
This chest began as a bureau with its mirrored back.
Judging from its great workmanship and elegant design, it probably was spectacular in its former condition. It dates from the period 1840 – 1860, the high point of fine Victorian furniture making. It likely came from a cabinet shop in the mid-Atlantic region, possibly Philadelphia or, given its Northern Neck provenance, perhaps Baltimore.
With all such pieces that regrettably today are fragments of their former presences, the value has decreased due to the loss of the glove boxes and mirror. As is, the piece is worth $400. If still in its original condition, the value would be over twice as great.
Often one sees glove boxes and mirrors that have come off of Victorian furniture. If it would be feasible to get compatible components to put the bureau back to its original dimensions, the value would increase significantly, but not to the level of what it would be with the missing pieces still present.
In the mid-twentieth century, a fad developed to remove ornate vestiges from Victorian pieces. This bureau might have been a casualty of that era. The owner also has two cut-down Victorian parlor tables that have been turned into coffee tables, leading one to surmise that the bureau received a similar fate. The owner does not think the missing pieces of either the bureau or the tables ever could be found, which is the principal reason why pieces that are still original are worth appreciably more.