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Antiques Considered - December 26, 2012

This Victorian worktable comes from the lower Northern Neck where it has belonged to the same family for several generations.

It is walnut, with poplar secondary wood. The upper drawer is divided into sections to accommodate the various sewing needs. The escutcheons are ivory, and the pulls are original. The owners think it has been refinished many years ago.
This table dates from the middle of the nineteenth century, between 1840 and 1860, and probably was made in the East or Midwest.  In purpose and drawer arrangement it follows the concept of the early nineteenth century, but in style, especially with the scalloped top, it is purely Victorian. Worktables more often are Federal or Empire in style. This one is particularly delicate with its single column terminating in the tripod base.

The column structure precludes having the fabric bag, which was typical of Empire worktables whereby the lady could store her unfinished sewing in a bag, usually satin, which hung from the bottom drawer.  This piece has nice lines, and seems to be sturdy.  The ivory escutcheons are the piece’s greatest assets, and add substantially to its overall worth.

The table has a value of  $225.  More elaborate Federal or Empire ones with the bags and three drawer fronts can go for more than $1,000. Although most people do not use them for their original purpose these days, worktables remain popular as their size makes possible a variety of uses.

In this case the refinishing has affected the value significantly. As so many pieces have lost their original surfaces, the patina being gone forever, those that have retained it are increasingly more valuable. Every time one gets refinished, the value of those remaining with their original finish increases.  

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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