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Antiques Considered - July 22, 2009

   A writer from the Lower Northern Neck purchased altthis English Regency chest at an antique shop in Alexandria many years ago. It is mahogany, with satinwood inlay and the original ivory escutcheons. Unfortunately, the original hardware, consisting of single center pulls, has been replaced with the present bails. The finish also is not original, and there is a minor piece missing from the top on the right side.

   This chest dates from the first quarter of the 19th century. It most certainly is English, and manifests the prevalent tastes of the period. In America, the Federal Period of furniture corresponds with the English Regency.
   The term “Regency” cones from the decade between 1810 and 1820, when King George III’s madness had become so great that Parliament declared his son, the Prince of Wales as Regent, with full powers to carry on the affairs of state during his father’s incapacity.
   In 1820 George III died and the Prince Regent succeeded him as George IV, reigning for ten years until his death in 1830. His brother succeeded him as William IV, but he lived only seven years, and upon his death his niece, Victoria succeeded to the throne, reigning for 63 years, the longest reign in British history,
   The style of the Prince Regent, who had a fascination for artistic matters, was somewhat more austere than what had preceded him, and far plainer than what came with his niece in the Victorian Era. This chest reflects that level of elegance, without having the frills that later characterized Victorian pieces. As the correspondent did not mention the secondary wood, I assume it is English oak or yew.
   In its refinished state, without the original hardware, the chest is worth $1,800, less than half of what it would be in pristine condition. It is a nice example of its period, and I recommend having the minor chunk missing in the back of the top restored. Doing so will prevent dust cloths from catching on the jagged edge and pulling more of the top apart. I do not suggest trying to return to the original hardware, as that would leave the two drilled holes of the present hardware exposed.
   Happy antiquing...
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu@ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in “Antiques Considered.” Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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