- Published on Wednesday, 14 November 2012 14:23
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A New York family now living in the Northern Neck has owned this pair of French chests for almost a century. The grandmother, long deceased, purchased them in Paris in the 1920s. They are walnut with Louis XVI legs. The dovetailing of the drawers is deep, and the overall condition of the pieces is excellent. The finish and the hardware are original. The backs are unfinished.
These pieces date from the period of the Third Republic, 1871 – 1940. They probably were made in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The design is highly sophisticated, and the workmanship is superior. The pair is worth $300., and possibly more if a maker’s name could be identified. I suggest looking on the backs and bottoms of the drawers for a label or a signature.
French furniture remains popular, and high-end pieces such as these always sell well. The Empire period is most in demand, but earlier motifs, such as this one in Louis XVI style, also enjoy popular favor. Again, as I have noted many times in this space, having the original finish and hardware accounts for half of the value. Refinished furniture simply does not command the prices that pieces in original condition do, and this statement is true for all types and periods.
The heavy dovetailing is a typical French characteristic. Although it does not show on the outside, in purchasing French pieces, one should look to see if the dovetailing is deep, and if the drawer bottoms are made of solid wood, rather than a laminate. The laminated drawer bottoms indicate that the furniture is from early twentieth century, and would be worth a fraction of that of the earlier periods.
One of the finest collections of great French furniture is at the Hillwood Museum in Washington, the former home of Marjorie Post. For those interested in the French style, it is well worth a visit.
Happy Antiquing …