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Antiques Considered - May 4, 2011

An antique collector from Middlesex County recently acquired this pair of American Empire side chairs and the Chippendale walnut one-drawer stand.  The wood of each is walnut, and he thinks the finish is original.  The secondary wood of the table is pine. The chairs are upholstered in needlepoint, which is a twentieth-century addition.  They are sturdy, and can be used without weakening their structure.

First, as far as the chairs go, they indeed appear to be from the 1830s or 1840s.  The vase splat has good proportion, and the saber legs and

serpentine fronts are typical of the period.  These were part of a larger dining set, and are popular today, often as hall pieces.  They are worth $125 each; the price has remained constant for the last 30 years.  Unfortunately, many of the complete sets of dining chairs from this period are separated now, and many have been broken by people carelessly leaning back in them and snapping off the backs.

The table is a wonderful example of American Chippendale furniture, dating from 1780.  The bail, or pull, on the drawer might be an old replacement, but it goes well with the overall style of the table.  The legs are champhered, which means that the inside corner of each is angled, the usual Chippendale practice for pieces with straight legs.

The owner bought the piece in Virginia, which leads me to think that it very well could be from the Shenandoah Valley, where much fine furniture of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries originated. The design is reminiscent of the Shenandoah Valley hunt board I described in this space last fall.

With the original finish, pine secondary wood, champhered legs and traditional design, this piece is a great find.  It is worth $550, and possibly more at the right auction.  Any collector of period American antiques should be happy to have it in his or her home.

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 e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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