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Antiques Considered November 25, 2009

A couple in the Northern Neck inherited this library table a few years ago.  It is mahogany with yellow pine secondary wood.  Even the drawer bottoms are solid pine, and not plywood.  It bears a label in one of the drawers stating that it was made an authentic handmade reproduction by A. Sacks in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Another label on the back of the same drawer indicates it was sold by Woodward and Lothrop, the former prestigious department store in Washington, D. C.  Several other pieces of furniture in the home have the same labels.

This table is a wonderful example of the American Federal style that was the fashion in the 1830s.  It has beautiful lines, the classic lyre-motif ends, and excellent marquetry and veneering on the drawer fronts.   The feet terminate in fine brass cups, all in keeping with the era replicated.
The Sacks shop is in the tradition of the Boston cabinetmakers who prided themselves on being able to make "fakes", that is furniture that is so pristine that it could pass for Period, rather than reproduction.  A. Sacks was one of the pre-eminent cabinetmakers in the Boston area.
As to the table's retail history, Woodward and Lothrop sold only the finest pieces in their famous store in Washington.  Originally called the Boston Dry Goods Store, it was founded in 1881, and stayed in business until the 1980s.  The manager of the furniture department from the 1930s to the 1960s was a Mr. Madigan, a furniture guru, who always sold only the best.
Given the quality of the piece and its documented origin and provenance, this table is worth $600.  In Massachusetts the figure would be higher as folks up there take great pride in the cabinetmaking history.  As a general rule, I do not treat reproduction furniture in this column, but this piece is truly exceptional.
Happy Antiquing...

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