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Antiques Considered - January 23, 2013

Victorian shadowbox frames remain popular despite the downturn we are experiencing with most Victoriana.  This large walnut one comes from a family here in the Northern Neck.  It has what the family thinks is the original glass, in part because the silvering has some spots and lines due to age.  The family is considering replacing the mirror.  The frame is rusticated, and the gilt gesso liner retains its original finish.
A rusticated frame is one in which the maker meticulously carved the wood to give the appearance that the design was natural and not manmade.  In this case he succeeded brilliantly.  As to the imperfections in the mirror, many collectors see them as assets, in that they give an older look to the glass.  I knew one prominent local antiquarian/collector who once bought an old mirror, threw the frame away, and put the discolored glass in his new frame to give a more pronounced image of antiquity.

 The larger shadowbox frames in such good condition are becoming increasingly more difficult to find.  This one is a great example and would sell well.  It is worth $175., the original finish and mirror accounting for half of its overall value.  Another aspect of its worth rests on its always having been a frame to hang on the wall, rather that a mirrored frame off of a piece of furniture.  A purist Victorian collector would be happy to have this one hanging on the wall.

 As to age, the man who made this frame either left shortly thereafter to fight in the War Between the States or made it soon after his return, in other words it dates from the 1850s or 1860s.  The frame reflects the High Victorian Period, the furnishings of which continue to constitute the most popular motif of that overall genre.
Henry Lane Hull and Lisa Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.at P.O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579. They can be reached at 804.580.3301 or. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Henry Hull will be at the St. Clements Appraisal Fair this weekend.

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