- Last Updated on Friday, 04 January 2013 16:28
- Published on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 00:00
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As a general rule I do not use this space to describe reproductions, but this week I am making an exception. A couple in Northumberland County special-ordered this piece to be made by Reese’s Antiques in Richmond back in the 1950s to meet the dimensions of the dining room in their 1874 home overlooking the water. It is mahogany, and meets the traditional lines one should expect of an 1800-era piece.
This sideboard has value here in Virginia far beyond that of the average reproduction. Reese’s Antiques on Main
Street in Richmond, a block from the Jefferson Hotel, occupied a Victorian four-storey building, on the top floor of which Mr. Reese had assembled a crew of craftsman of extraordinary ability.
They made pieces, such as this one, to order, and always had a backlog. The lower floors had one of the finest displays of great antiques ever known in the Commonwealth. Reese’s cabinet shop was a smaller version of Richmond’s other famous furniture maker, Biggs Co., which made great pieces that are quite collectible too these days.
Mr. Reese presided with a level of supreme authority and aplomb. He spoke definitively about his merchandise, and confidently accepted orders for his hand-crafted pieces. He drew a large following from all across the Commonwealth, and customers eagerly awaited delivery of his pieces.
In Washington Mr. Reese had a counterpart in Krupsaw’s Olde Antique House on Pennsylvania Avenue, another great Victorian establishment founded by Nathan Krupsaw, an emigrant from Minsk in the Russian Empire, in 1884. By mid-twentieth century his son, Simon, and Mr. Reese were longtime friendly competitors. Once Mr. Reese told me that Simon Krupsaw was “Mr. Cash.” Sadly today both shops have passed into history.
As to this sideboard, like its progenitors from two centuries ago, it was made by hand by skilled cabinetmakers, who exactly followed both the “letter and spirit” of the earlier pieces. It is worth $1,200. The Reese’s label is a significant aspect of the value of this sideboard, as is the case with all of the firm’s other pieces.