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Antiques Considered - March 9, 2011

 

This elegant Victorian settee belongs to a collector in Tidewater.  He purchased it at an antique shop, and had it upholstered’ following the pattern of earlier coverings in a fine ecru damask.  The wood frame is walnut, and still has the original finish.

The loveseat dates from the middle of the nineteenth century, and is probably from a cabinet shop in the Mid-Atlantic region.  I would date it at 1850.  The ornate carving and elaborate design indicate a high level of

sophistication on the part of the maker.

The recovering has been done with painstaking fidelity to the original motif.  I always suggest photographing both sides of the frame between the removal of the old fabric and the installation of the new.  So doing establishes a record of the structural method used in construction, and more importantly, possibly through a signature or label, gives the name of the maker.

Victorian sofas and loveseats remain abundant on the market, but this one is exceptional for its extensive carving on such a small piece.  Clearly, the maker intended for the tufting of the upholstery to reflect the overall design of the center medallion in the rear.  The walnut of the frame appears to have been laid out on a pattern designed to emphasize the flowing forms.  The grain flows with the lines of the piece.

The loveseat is of a quality far surpassing that of most of its contemporaries.  It might have been a part of a larger suite of furniture including lady and gentleman’s armchairs as well as side chairs.  Standing alone, it is worth $1,200.

 The Victorian Era has not achieved the popularity of other ages of American furniture, but its devotees, although small in numbers, are quite loyal, and often in competition with one another at auction, will surprise us with their willingness to pay for truly fine pieces.  This loveseat is such a piece.

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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