Saturday, January 11, 2020

LATE START TO 2020--AMERICAN 18th C. BACHELORS CHEST OR Wonderful George II Little Chest, Part II

Isn't she pretty?

First auction of the year.......and we get another 18th century chest of drawers!!
Remember this guy from just a couple of months ago?

And this sweet little late 18th c. Italian girl from the last auction of 2019........

I think my spell of not winning chests of drawers has been broken.

Heather of "Habitually Chic" blog recently posted about Fleur Cowles' London Apartment in the very desirable address within Albany house where she entertained the Queen Mother and many British notables of the past century. Here's a photo of Fleur Cowles' living room

Notice the pink Louis XV-style side chairs?  They look a lot like  my pair of French Louis XV-style slipper chairs/chauffeuses......... (I think mine are cooler).


Way, way, way back in February 2012, when I first started blogging, I wrote a post about an English George II Bachelors Chest....the link is given below:

In it I said that I was a little green with envy regarding the chest.....

I think it's time for a little tutorial on American Chests vs. English (I'm not an expert; but I do know the basics). Sometimes it's hard to tell because many times the craftsmen came directly from England bringing their traditional wood working and construction methods with them. Of course, American Furniture of the 18th century derived its main inspiration from English Furniture.

This sweet little bachelors chest at first glance, although smaller and more vertical, appears to be very similar to the English bachelors chest, above--it's veneered in a costly burl wood **notice that it is booked veneer--great care was taken to mirror left and right sides of the drawers and continue the grain pattern vertically. Both chests have similar original hardware (most hardware was imported to the Colonies from England).

A closer look reveals that the American chest is less refined than the English example which has beautiful cross banding on the drawer fronts; whereas the American example does not. Neither of the chests have cock beaded drawers. The top of the English chest has cross banding; the American chest also has cross banding on the top.


Both chests retain their original deeply (oxidized) patinated back boards. And also retain their wonderful bracket feet.

The interior of the drawers reveals the pine secondary wood of the American chest. Although I do not have photos of the English Chest drawers, I assume that the secondary wood is oak, which was the customary secondary wood for chests of this quality.

As shown in the photo of the American Chest's drawer bottom, American drawer bottoms are nearly always chamfered--the edge is cut on a 45* angle to fit into a groove at the 90* angle formed by the front and the bottom. This  feature would be unusual in English  drawer construction.
For me, there's another consideration when deciding attribution: doesn't the American chest feel like it has a unique identity? (A little Rebel in the making?) It has great character without following a set formula for it's design--not so with the English chest. The English chest is wonderful, but just a bit boring when compared to the American Example of about the same time frame.
Unfortunately (but fixable), the English chest has had its original surface covered over with some sort of varnish or product. The American piece has not been stripped and retains its old, perhaps original, finish.
I hope this little tutorial is a first step in your  researching the differences in American and English case furniture.


We also acquired this great pair of French glazed ceramic lamps---can't wait to see them paired with the new little chest. The shades will need to be replaced, as those square guys are way to clumsy and disproportionate. 

It's hard to believe that we are already into our second week of 2020..........yikes! I think that 2020 will be an amazing year for me. Hoping that 2020 brings you tons of growth and blessings.

Mary & Cole

***** I can't help it---next post will be totally about the small narcissistic "t" that inhabits the White House very temporarily, if I can help it.

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