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Antiques Considered - October 26, 2011

This late American Empire four-drawer chest comes form a prospective buyer who is considering purchasing it for his family to use as a sideboard.  The wood is walnut and the marble top is in perfect condition.  Each of the drawers retains its original lock, but the white porcelain knobs are replacements.  It has solid ends, and he thinks the finish is original.  The secondary wood is pine.

 This piece is a fine example of the quality furniture that American craftsmen produced in the early nineteenth century.  It dates from the 1830s and certainly has an old, if not original, finish.  The wood tone is excellent.

 The only serious drawback is the replacement of what would have been brass, wood or glass pulls with modern kitchen cabinet knobs.  I strongly recommend replacing them with ones in

keeping with the style of the period.  Good brass companies such as Horton or Ball and Ball, offer good pieces at reasonable prices.

I do not recommend putting wood ones on it unless they are old themselves, as knobs do not stain well to match the finish on the drawers.  In addition, it would be difficult to find eight matching wooden ones.

As is, the chest is worth $450, and the expenditure for the replaced knobs would increase the value by far more than the cost. The late American Empire Period produced good, solid furniture, which has passed the test of time.  The dovetailing is a major factor in assessing its durability.   Quite simple, it was made to last.

 The chest exhibits the beginnings of the Victorian Era with the ogee curve on the marble’s edge, and the apron’s scalloped edge.  This piece is versatile in that it could be a bedroom chest or a dining room server or sideboard.  It needs no restoration except for replacing the knobs, which indeed is urgent to return the piece to its proper appearance.        

 Happy antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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