- Published on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 23:21
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At times antique appraisal work is akin to detective work. This week we have a case in point. Many years ago a lady in the Northern Neck purchased this “blanket chest.” It is walnut with poplar secondary wood. When the top opens it reveals the interiors of the two front drawers. The hinges have some age, but are not original. The finish is original. The owner purchased it many years ago, and uses it as a television stand.
This piece is a fragment of what it once was, namely, an armoire. The base is simply the bottom of an armoire, and the lid is a side panel reworked into a new purpose. That the top opens to reveal the interior of the two drawers, rather than the space for blanket storage, is the giveaway.
The crude replacement hinges and the modern flat pull on the lid also prove that the piece has undergone extensive renovation. Lastly, the paneled end that has become the new lid would make using the top for display difficult given its uneven surface.
All of this analysis does not mean that the piece is without merit or value in its present state. As a support for a television I am sure it works well, and the drawers still can be useful for storage. If still an armoire, and in what appears to have been an elaborate original overall design, the piece would be worth $1000., but as is the value is more functional than antique-based. For what it is today, it is worth $150.
Why the piece was reconfigured will remain a mystery, but the overall effect, although not perfect, is also not unpleasant. It illustrates the point that tampering with antiques does not improve their overall value. Recently I was asked to look at a “library table” that had been converted from an old square grand piano. As with this chest, the antique value had been diminished, although as a table the piece was not unattractive. The moral of the story is “original is best.”
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc., at 5150 Jesse DuPont Hwy., P. O. Box 35, Wicomico Church VA 22570.