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Antiques Considered - May 21, 2014

This American Empire Grecian couch belonged to a gentleman who recently died, and it is now to be disposed of by his estate.  The primary wood is mahogany, both solid and veneer, and the secondary wood is pine.  Aside from a few veneer nicks, the overall condition is excellent.  At present the couch does not have a bolster.

This piece is a classic of the American Empire period.  The revival of interest in ancient Greece in the early nineteenth century, most notably symbolized by the poetry of Lord Byron, brought forth a prodigious effort both in Europe and America to replicate Grecian furnishings.  Almost certainly, this couch was one of a pair, the mate to which had the armrest on the opposite side.

Dating from the period from 1840 to 1850, this couch is a decade or two later than the more delicate ones, which were more flamboyant in their style.  The proportions of this one are good, and the condition is better than many similar ones.

The present fabric, which appears to be old, is not the appropriate choice for such a piece.  To be in accord with the architecture of the couch, the fabric should be a bright vertical stripe, and the piece demands a bolster.  The latter is a round pillow in the same fabric as the couch, fitting into the angle where the single arm reaches the base.

Neo-classical American furniture remains popular, but the higher prices go for the slightly earlier versions.  This one in its present condition, needing re-upholstery, is worth $500.  The correct fabric properly applied likely will cost upwards of $1000.  Once done it will be a spectacular piece, but as to being an investment, owning this couch has to be its own reward.

Henry Lane Hull and his wife Lisa operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie duPont Hwy. in Wicomico Church, VA.  Write to him at P. O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579 or e-mail questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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