An 1820 wedding gift enjoyed by seven generations.Thank you for sending me an image of your chest of drawers. It is a terrific piece with a well-chronicled family provenance.According to your family documentation, combined with the pencil inscription on the backboards of the chest, in 1820 this chest was made for and given to Polly Sibley Eastman of Hopkinton, N.H., as a wedding gift. It then descended within your family for seven generations.Your chest is made in the Sheraton style, which is exemplified by the bowed front and the turned legs and posts. It appears to be made of mahogany, cherry, bird's eye maple and Northeastern white pine. The four drawers are inset with bird's eye veneer fronts framed by banding with beaded edges. The drawers have replaced hardware as evidenced by the extra hole in the drawer fronts, which is visible from inside each drawer.Judging from your family history and the style of the chest, it was most likely made in the Concord, N.H., area. Concord was a successful center of New Hampshire furniture making. Cabinetmakers such as Peter Bartlett, Porter Blanchard and the firm of Choate and Martin were based in the city of Concord during the Federal period of American furniture making (1790-1830).You shared with me that it was suggested that Porter Blanchard made your chest. Blanchard was born in 1788 in the Milford/Amherst area of New Hampshire and moved to Concord around 1810 where he started a cabinet shop. In 1818 he invented the Blanchard Butter Churn, which was very successful, and the business expanded and continued with his sons. The Blanchards were also known for making drums during the Civil War.More hands-on study is necessary to pinpoint who made your chest, but it is a fine piece that as a gift in 1820 was certainly a current and new design.With the provenance of your chest, I would value it at $9,500.
This article appears in the November 2010 issue of New Hampshire Magazine