Miniature American Classical (Late Federal) Mahogany Chest of Drawers, New England c. 1810-20
This is a very fine American Classical (Late Federal) Mahogany Chest of Drawers, a Salesman's Sample of Miniature dimensions c. 1810-20. It is crafted of solid mahogany (top, sides, drawer fronts, drawer secondaries, columns), mahogany veneers (stile facings on right and left of drawers and drawer blades), white pine secondaries (back, bottom, interior blocking), rosewood (knobs) and unidentified stringer inlays (appear to be holly or satinwood).
The top is rectangular in form, projecting over the front and sides with tight turrets at the corners over spiral-turned columns - these complex formations transition from a series of tight ring turnings into the spiral balusters over tiny urns and completed with a series of complex ring turnings over cork feet. The columns define the chest, greatly elevating the form with tasteful embellishment that does not distract from the overall composition. The graduated two over three drawers retain their original rosewood knobs, these flanking the inverted tear-drop escutcheons and framed as a whole in the rectangular stringer inlays.
Dovetail construction dominates the chest, through dovetails securing the sides of the case to the bottom and presumably to the interior framing upon which the top is set (unable to verify without removing the top). The back board is deeply chamfered to slide into rabbets in the sides and is secured with glued blocks inside the case and tacks along the lower edge. The drawers are likewise dovetailed front and back, the bottom board on four of the five with mitered edges to slide into rabbeted drawer sides: one of the tiny drawers varies in construction from the other four. The bottom board is chamfered along the edges, sliding into rabbets in the drawer sides. Counter to the two-and-one-fourth dovetail pins securing the fronts of the other drawers, this tiny drawer has just two dovetail pins without the lapped edge on the bottom. However, after spending a great deal of time examining the drawer, we are almost certain it is original to the chest but crafted by a different person in the shop - several of this "Salesman's Sample" would have been produced at the same time, the same size drawer/column/top/etc. likely being constructed in multiples, then assembled afterwards. Please review the images carefully for your own assessment.
Preserved on the chest is much of it's history and character in the deep and highly oxidized patina, the finish being very early and possibly original under later wax. Originality is retained throughout the chest, remaining largely untouched for the last two hundred years, resulting in a simply fantastic miniaturized work of American art. For any serious collector of American furniture or of miniature examples, this is a very fine acquisition indeed.
Measurements: 13 9/16" wide [at turrets] x 8 1/16" deep x 11 1/4" high
[OVERALL] Finish is very early, cleaned at some point unevenly to result in variation on the drawer surfaces - possibly original surface under later waxes; minor scratches, dings and abrasions throughout. No alterations. Overall a very fine piece in sturdy well preserved condition. Please review images in the slideshow for a full overview of condition.
[DRAWERS] Tight fit throughout. One of the tiny drawers construction varies from the other tiny drawer - we believe the drawer was made by a different craftsman, as these would have been "mass produced", but still is original to the piece; all rosewood knobs original, each with slight variation from the next: some with losses along edge of backing; no key available; bottom drawer lock has been filled in; string inlay loss on right edge of one drawer; stringer inlay on right and left edges of bottom drawer appear to be replaced.
[COLUMNS] Left column slightly loose, the screw having lost it's grip; strip of veneer along left side of drawers cracked and with light separation due to the pressure of the loose column; all screws original.
[INTERIOR] Untouched: a few blocks absent here and there.
[LEFT SIDE] Molding at bottom edge absent; two tiny holes that appear to be pest damage as they do not extend through the side of the case.
[BACK] Sliver of replaced wood accompanied by three added tacks, probably to help strengthen in light of shrinking. Otherwise untouched.
[RIGHT SIDE] Molding at base possibly replaced as it is slightly less robust than the front edge and lacks the dirty gritty finish.