Whitehall Blog

Archive for October, 2009

The Answer

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Each of these chests began as a large four or five drawer chest made about 1830-1860 in the Georgian taste known in England as Sheraton Revival.

Each of these chests was originally about 36-42 inches wide by 36-42 inches high!

Each of these chests is now about 30 inches by 30 inches!

This was accomplished by “chop Shops” throughout England spending dozens of hours on each chest completely taking it apart, cutting it down and putting it back together.

Sometimes the craftsmen were true artisans–sometimes hacks–but the result was the same:  a large unpopular size chest reduced to a highly valued small chest.

You can spot them every time–there is no such thing as a three drawer Georgian chest or American chest in the Georgian style.  I have examined hundreds of these over the years and EVERY one of them eventually revealed the signs that it had been cut down.  Inevitably disturbed oxidation, sharper than expected edges, signs of modern saws used to make cuts–these factors reveal the truth.

These chests are not without decorative or utilitarian value–but they have no collectible value.  Buy them only if they are priced at about 1/3 of the large chest from which they are made and no more than 10% of the value of an authentic bachelor’s chest (what these little chests are so often called).

Test Question

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Chest from Is It Genuine?What is wrong with all three of these small chests?  You know they are in some way fake–but how is the question!Mahogany chest.Satinwood Chest, Sotheby's New Bond Street AuctionEach of these chests tells the same story in a different way.

The top left is from Crawley’s book in the 1950′s titled Is It Genuine?

Top right is mahogany from a shop near London.

Right is a satinwood example sold at Sotheby’s New Bond Street (their premier house).

Count up their similarities and see if you have deduced the correct answer.

Fake Chests Everywhere!

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Perhaps I am just becoming an old curmudgeon but from Leland Little’s Labor Day Auction to the Hinsdale Antiques Market, from Christie’s London catalogues to shops everywhere–all I see are one after another fake Georgian chests.  These are a peculiar type of fake–and when simply noted as “19th century” not totally fraudulent in their representation.

To make this story clear, I am going to break it into several segments over several days, giving you food for thought.  Today is the Test Question–next will be the answer–third will be the creation of such pieces and how to unmask them!