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Antiques Considered - June 17, 2009

A transplant from Alexandria, who now lives in the Middle Peninsula, acquired this chimney cupboard some time ago. It is pine, standard tongue-and-groove, planking, handmade, and fitted on the inside to hold six guns.
  It is about 6 feet tall, and has the original greenish-blue paint, which has worn nicely over the years. The original latch is still in use, and the padlock clasp is probably original also. Inside, two boxes, made from fruit crates, are probably for bullets.
  This piece borders on being a primitive. Clearly, it is handmade. But by using mill produced tongue-and-groove flooring as the material, it is not -- strictly speaking -- what we should define as an authentic “primitive.”  I suspect it dates from the early 20th century, but the origin is virtually impossible to determine.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 17, 2009

Antiques Considered - June 10, 2009

A lady from Northumberland County bought this platform rocking chair a number of years ago.  The wood is walnut and the upholstery, which is not original, is in excellent condition, although it is bright red.
This piece dates from the 1870s.  Fortunately, the previous owner kept the original lines when the chair was re-upholstered: The tufting on the back was repeated. Often, to save money, people have Victorian pieces re-covered without having the tufting repeated. Despite the money spent with the upholsterer, this practice lessens the overall value.  Here that did not happen.
The carving on the crest is exceptionally well done, and the overall lines are excellent.  The chair shows the profound influence of Charles Eastlake, the Victorian designer who popularized the intaglio cut motif, which has been applied to the side carvings, apron and back.  I suspect it came from a cabinet shop in the mid-Atlantic region, probably New York or Pennsylvania.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 10, 2009

Antiques Considered - June 3, 2009

This picture of an  comes from an estate in the Middle Peninsula.  It has been in the same house for generations, and is in excellent condition.  The upper crown will not fit in the present setting due to the low ceilings, but fortunately the owners have saved it.  The mirrors are beveled, and they, the hardware and the finish are original.
This armoire dates from the 1880s, and is one of the finest pieces of its kind that I ever have seen.  It is probably of mid-Atlantic origin, and possibly could have a maker's label on the back. Although a factory piece, the attention to detail is extraordinary, especially with respect to the carving.  It is typically Victorian in that it "mixes metaphors" when it comes to defining its style.
The mirrors reflect a French theme, while the carving is totally American Victorian.  The use of oak, rather than walnut or mahogany, is not unusual, but today the value would be greater had the material been one of the other woods.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 3, 2009

Antiques Considered - May 27, 2009


A couple in Northumberland County have a pitcher collection, two of which they have pictured here.  The white one is English salt-glazed, and the yellow and green one is American majolica. Both are in good condition.  The white one is in a floral motif, and has an embossed, illegible mark on the bottom, and is ten inches high.  The corncob one, which is really a mug, rather than a pitcher, is unmarked, and is eight inches high.

The white salt-glazed one probably dates from the 1840s or 1850s, and is clearly Staffordshire.  Salt-glaze pottery is quite popular, and represents one of the high points of nineteenth-century artistry.  The design, mixing the Gothic Revival pointed arches entwined with ivy, is another manifestation of the return to medieval motifs that characterized the mid-Victorian period.

Read more: Antiques Considered - May 27, 2009

Antiques Considered - May 20, 2009

A writer from King George has inquired about her antique bench, which her husband's parents gave the couple about 10 years ago.  Twenty years prior to the gift the parents had traded a local antique dealer an old organ or piano for the bench.  The top of the seat lifts up to reveal a large storage area.

This bench appears to be walnut, and the finish seems to be original.  Perhaps I am going out on a limb, but I think it is probably Italian, dating from the nineteenth century, replicating the Renaissance style of several hundred years earlier.  The hand carving is exquisite, and the overall condition seems to be excellent.  From the hairy paw feet, through the lion's head arms, to the fruited crest, the attention to detail is extraordinary.

The trade for the organ must go down as one of the great antiques coups of modern times.  Most old organs are difficult to sell, and rarely bring as much as $300, but this bench is easily worth $1,500, and I possibly would go even higher upon seeing it in person.  
If I am correct in assuming it is Italian, it represents a very hot field.  Nearly 20 years ago I attended a Christie's auction in New York City where I saw a fine Italian baroque desk, which was estimated to sell for $12,000 to $18,000, go in less than 60 seconds for $264,000.  I do not mean to equate this piece with that desk, but rather to use a personal illustration to demonstrate the high demand for superb Italian pieces.

Over the years I have seen several fine Italian antiques in private collections here in the Northern Neck, and this piece could hold its own with the best of them.  It is the work of a genuine artisan, a master craftsman whose talents range from the splendid design to the execution of the detailed carving.

Happy Antiquing ….
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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