CHIPPENDALE MAHOGANIZED-BIRCHWOOD REVERSE SERPENTINE CHEST OF DRAWERS
Massachusetts, probably Boston | circa 1770 | retaining original brasses and resting over ball-and-claw feet
Item # 209JSW16Z
A very fine reverse-serpentine (also known as "Oxbow") chest of drawers from the Chippendale period, it is a product of the North Shore of Massachusetts circa 1780 and probably originates from Boston or the surrounding area. The chest is crafted of solid birch primary woods that have been "mahoganized", a technique developed during the period to simulate the look and hue of mahogany with less costly and more easily obtained woods. A rectangular top with a curved front edge conforming to the curved profile of the facade is set on vertical dovetails on the right and left side of the case, allowing the top to easily expand and contract without cracking or otherwise being damaged; the edge of the top is thumb-molded of the solid. A series of four graduated drawers are situated below this, each drawer facade cut from a single plank of birch in an undulating curvature, the sides of the drawer locking into the front with large crisply hand-cut dovetails and an applied runner strip beneath this. The drawer blades and stiles have a thin raised bead that simulates applied cockbead molding framing each drawer and period bail pulls hang from each drawer. The entire case rests over crisp carved ball-and-claw feet with wonderfully formed talons. An old chalk inscription remains intact across the underside of the case. Formerly with Sotheby's (achieved $ 20,700 USD in 1999) and before that with the renowned Americana dealer Anthony Werneke.
Provenance: Sewell Family, Waldoboro, Maine [according to Sotheby's catalogue text]; with Anthony S. Werneke Antiques, Huntington, New York [according to Sotheby's catalogue text, Werneke label remains applied to inner left side of top drawer]; Sotheby's, New York, October 15 1999, lot 65, achieved $ 20,700.
Measurements: 33 7/8" H x 21 3/4" D x 38 3/4" W
Top has been reset with inset dowels at the front corners of the top; surface is old and appears to retain the original mahoganized-stain with scuffs and scratches here and there throughout (all of these can be polished out and carefully re-colored upon request); shellac is a bit thin on the upper left corner of the right side of the case, other areas of finish wear/rubbing. Bail pulls appear to be original, keyhole escutcheons are period and perhaps original. Original feet and blocking, most interior blocking has been reset with modern glue. A few modern nails supplementing the original iron brads in the original backboards. No key and locks untested.Old vertical shrinkage cracks along left and right side of case. Presents beautifully.