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Antiques Considered - January 16, 2013

This Victorian walnut marbletop chest belongs to a Northern Neck family with roots in the Midwest.  It is in excellent condition, and the family thinks that it is complete, showing no evidence of having had an attached mirror or splashboard.  The secondary wood is poplar.  The ends are paneled, and the finish is original.

As Victorian pieces go this one is a good example.  The marble top has an ogee edge to it, and retains its original polished finish.  The chest’s greatest feature is the excellent carving on the wooden pulls.  The basket motif containing the fruit, probably pomegranates, and delicate leaves set in the carved reliefs shows a level of high craftsmanship on the part of the cabinetmaker.

The chest dates from the mid-nineteenth century, and is likely a mid-Atlantic piece.  I suggest looking on the bottom and backs of the drawers for a label or signature.  The paneled ends hold the value back in comparison with similar pieces with solid ends.   Some chests from this period also have secret drawers at the bottom, but this one appears not to have one.  The white porcelain casters are another nice feature.

The secret drawer was behind the bottom panel, which outwardly looked like the base of the piece.  The idea behind it was to provide a place for valuables that would fool a burglar, who would not think to look there for hidden treasures.  The ones with the hidden drawers are much rarer, and Victorian collectors keep their values significantly higher.   This chest is worth $450.  As with many other antiques, the recession has affected the values, and that figure is less than what I should have quoted five years ago.

Victorian antiques were more in demand a generation ago, and one day their popularity will return.  For now they make good investments, providing they are of significant quality such as this piece.

Happy Antiquing!
Henry Lane Hull and Lisa Hull may be found at Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.. P.O. Box 35. Wicomico Church, VA 22579 , 804.580.3301 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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