I went to another world the other day. Attended part of Americana Week at Sotheby’s in New York. I was there to give a talk, but I got to see some great oak furniture offered for sale this week…and got to see some friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in quite a while. Here’s the link to the auction listings; http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2018/important-americana-n09805.html#
Auction previews are great – unlike museums, here you can open stuff and peek inside. Lot #723 is a New Haven wainscot chair that has people all excited. (Some of these photos I shot hand-held in the galleries; the best ones were given to me by Sotheby’s)
A detail of one of the arms.
and of the carvings; I need the detail shots because I’m going to make one of these chairs this year.
I got to look this chair over with my friend Bob Trent – and neither of us had ever seen a groove like the one cut in the outside of the stile
I saw this box in 1998, now lot 727, on another research trip with Trent. And as soon as we started looking it over, we realized it was part of the group of boxes and chests by William Savell and his sons John and William from Braintree, Massachusetts. Even though we hadn’t seen this particular pattern before.
Many things connect this box to the others – square wooden pins instead of nails to secure the rabbets. Gouge-chopped accents here & there are direct quotes from the others. And the scribed lines above and below the carving; with diagonal chisel cuts zig-zagging across the box. Maltese cross punched inside the zig-zag.
Here’s the side of a related box at the MFA in Boston. You can see the zig-zags clearly here.
The box now at Sotheby’s again – look especially at the area outside the arches –
Now from a chest at the Smithsonian – this exact same motif outside the lunettes from the top rail
and above & below the opposing lunettes is a pattern from the panels on these chests – look at the very bottom of the panel:
Then back at the box front –
I don’t know what’s the story behind these till trenches. If it’s a till w a drawer, why does the vertical notch extend below what would be the till bottom? There is no hole for a till lid…
Inside, it stops just short of being labelled “This end up”.
Lots more stuff in the sale; a Boston chest of drawers, walnut and cedrela
a chest with drawers, Wethersfield, CT
And – me. Poor Mark Atchison gets no glory for all the hard blacksmith work he did back when we made a slew of these cabinets. Trent had us make this one as a gift to his friends Dudley & Constance Godfrey – and now a foundation they started is selling it, and several of these items as a fund-raiser for educational programming at the Milwaukee Art Museum… I didn’t do the coloring…