Prized Pieces




A chest of drawers - once part of an elegantly handcrafted highboy.

Thank you for sending me an image of your chest of drawers. It is a nice piece and tells an interesting story. Originally made as the upper section for a high chest or highboy, this piece would have had a crown moulding and would have been raised on a lower section typically with cabriole legs and fitted with drawers.

Your piece was made in the 18th century in New England and is beautifully constructed. Evidence shows that the hardware is replaced, as easily seen by the shadow of a previous knob and drilled hole in the drawer front. The top board was added when the crown moulding was removed. In addition, bun feet and casters were added because this was the top of another piece of furniture which would have been set into a raised base.

Your chest bears a graphite inscription on the center drawer: FH Waters / Manchester NH 2/26 1927. I would assume this was the cabinetmaker who adapted your piece.

The highboy was one of the prized pieces of furniture in a household. When an estate was being settled, often one sibling would take the upper section and fashion it into a chest (as was done to yours) and another sibling would take the lower section and add a top board to turn it into a serving piece for the dining room.

The upper and lower cases of different highboys are often put together. An assembled highboy of mismatched sections is called a "married" piece of furniture. Some of these marriages can be quite good and difficult to spot without taking the piece apart. As this was such a common practice, when one is looking at a highboy today it is important to look for consistency of construction, tool marks, secondary woods and finish to make certain that the upper and lower cases started out together. This greatly affects the value of a piece.

A married highboy can be purchased for far less than one that is original. One could also imagine that since highboys can be quite costly (tens of thousands of dollars, with the rarest surpassing one million dollars) that there are many fakes out there. Make certain that you are buying a highboy from a reputable dealer.

I would value your piece at $1,600.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. New Hampshire Patriot Guard Riders Fall Foliage Honor Guard
    Ride with the New Hampshire Patriot Guard Riders as they escort the ashes of Clifton...
  2. Q&A with Miltos Yerolemou from "Game of Thrones"
    An interview with "Game of Thrones" character Syrio Forel
  3. Facts about the Keene Pumpkin Festival
    Save the date for this year's Keene Pumpkin Festival on October 18.
  4. Favorite fall treat: Cider Donuts
    A cider donut recipe plus local NH stores and orchards where you can get hot and fresh donuts.
  5. Littleton's Schilling Beer Co.
    Tradition meets modern science in the White Mountains at Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton.
  6. A walkable weekend in the town of Littleton
    Littleton is regularly praised as one of America’s best Main Streets, and we wondered if we...
  7. Ideas for an outdoor fall party
    How our serene autumn dinner for a few guests turned into a sprawling annual event for more than...
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags