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Antiques Considered - June 3, 2009

This picture of an  comes from an estate in the Middle Peninsula.  It has been in the same house for generations, and is in excellent condition.  The upper crown will not fit in the present setting due to the low ceilings, but fortunately the owners have saved it.  The mirrors are beveled, and they, the hardware and the finish are original.
This armoire dates from the 1880s, and is one of the finest pieces of its kind that I ever have seen.  It is probably of mid-Atlantic origin, and possibly could have a maker's label on the back. Although a factory piece, the attention to detail is extraordinary, especially with respect to the carving.  It is typically Victorian in that it "mixes metaphors" when it comes to defining its style.
The mirrors reflect a French theme, while the carving is totally American Victorian.  The use of oak, rather than walnut or mahogany, is not unusual, but today the value would be greater had the material been one of the other woods.


In an historic bed and breakfast inn, or a Victorian period home, this piece would fit in seamlessly. For old rooms without closets armoires still serve important purposes, but in many cases height limitations make them unusable in modern homes.
Fortunately, this one has survived in tact, without anyone converting it to another use, such as an entertainment center, which might have necessitated destroying, or radically modifying, the interior.
Given the wide range of its high quality aspects, this piece is worth $1,500.  Had the maker used mahogany, the value would be nearly double that amount.  Had the crown been lost, we could deduct $500.  In this instance, totality of originality is the basis for its ability to command a substantial price.
If one likes Victorian, this piece is as fine as one will find.
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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