- Published on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 12:10
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This breakfront belongs to a family from Illinois that settled in the Northern Neck many years ago. They think the piece has been in the family for several generations, but do not know when they acquired it. It is walnut, with the original finish and glass. The overall condition is excellent.
This breakfront appears to date from the last third of the nineteenth century, but the raised paneled ends and single pieces of glass in the doors indicate that it could be later.
It is of Mid-Atlantic origin, probably having been made in Pennsylvania or New York. The finish is excellent, and the overall design, despite its simplicity, is good. I question whether it ever had a crown, which could have been discarded to accommodate lower ceilings. The raised panels are well executed, and give a greater presence to the piece.
The utility of the breakfront is one of its best assets, but its large size makes necessary having a big room in which to use it. If the doors were multi-paned, and the ends were solid I would date it to the late Federal or early Empire Period, namely the 1820s and 1830s, but most indications point to the 1870s. In either case it is a splendid example of nineteenth-century craftsmanship, and is worth $1,000.
If possible to find a maker’s label or signature on the back or on the bottom of a drawer, the value could be far greater. Antique breakfronts continue to sell well, in part driven by their utilitarian purpose. They hold a great amount of china, glass and silver that constitute the functions of fine dining, and with the glass doors, allow the better pieces to be seen even when not being used. In this case the moveable shelves are a further benefit in that they allow for display of larger pieces.