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Antiques Considered - December 25, 2013

This secretary bookcase belonged to a lady from California who died earlier this year.  Her daughter has inherited it, and plans to keep it in her home in the Northern Neck.  The wood is mahogany, and the finish has been restored. The ends are solid, rather than paneled.  The secondary wood is pine.  One of the brass knobs on the upper drawer is damaged, but the overall condition is excellent.

This desk dates from the early period of the nineteenth century.  The style is transitional from Federal to Sheraton, and the origin is almost certainly Massachusetts.

The brass hardware is typical of the period, as are the mullions in the two doors. I suspect that three brass finials might have adorned the crest, which can be ascertained by looking for holes where they should have been screwed into the crest.
The legs are turned in consistent Federal fashion, but their size anticipates the larger form used during the Sheraton Period. The solid ends indicate the sophistication of the cabinetmaker.  

The brass knob can be repaired, which would be better than replacing it.  I suggest Colony Metalsmiths of Williamsburg as the first place to inquire about its restoration.

As to the finish, the absence of the original shellac is a detriment in assessing the present value.  In appraising fine antiques, one has to consider the originality of the finish to be a major aspect of the value.  This piece is worth $1,800.  If a signature or label can be found documenting the cabinetmaker, the value could be significantly higher. Often chalk or pencil signatures appear on the backs or bottoms of drawers, with labels sometimes on the bottoms or backs of the pieces. A detailed examination well could be worth the effort.

Happy Antiquing!
Henry Lane Hull, Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc., P.O. Box 35 Wicomico Church, VA 22579, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , www.commonwealthantiques.com

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