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Antiques Considered - February 18, 2009

  A writer from Colonial Beach asks about his , which is in the style of the famous New York cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe.  
   This piece is a good reproduction of a classic American style of furniture, which was the rage in the first quarter of the nineteenth century.  It attempts to replicate all of the characteristics of Duncan Phyfe, such as the carving, particularly with the swag and jabot motif on the crest rail and the nice brass feet.  The depth and positioning of the cushions makes clear that it is a reproduction, which I should judge to date from the 1930s.  
   If I were evaluating this piece with a letter grade, I should call it a B plus.  The swag and jabot carving, which is likely from a pattern and machine-cut, is only in the center panel, and not all across the crest rail.  It is good carving, but not quite to the level one would expect from a period piece.
   In the 1930s this style became popular once again, and the demand for it generated a whole new era of production, but this time the center of activity was not New York, but Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The factories there started putting out huge quantities to meet the demand, and I suspect this sofa could be one from that group.
   From a retail perspective, this sofa is worth $1,000.  The taste for the style has come back, and once again it is popular.  At an estate sale in Georgetown, D.C., several years ago our firm sold a similar one for $400, but it needed re-upholstery.  This one appears to have fabric in good condition, but the mauve color might not be what a prospective buyer would choose.  A good re-upholstery job could run over $1,000, depending on the fabric selected.
   This one has received good treatment over the years, and is a nice example of its genre. 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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