Published: June 12, 2001
William and Mary Chest Brings $189,500 at Skinner
BOLTON, MASS. – On June 10 a William and Mary joined chest sold to a phone bidder for $189,500 at Skinner’s Americana auction. The chest was one of nine known examples of furniture from the Symonds shops (1670-1700) of Salem, Mass. It has become the fourth joined chest to be identified.
Martha Willoughby wrote an article on Symonds furniture in the 2000 issue of American Furniture published by the Chipstone Foundation. Works from the shops have distinctive applied architectural molding on the façade. The joined chests also have four panels on either side, and two large raised panels on the rear. Four cabinets and three chests by the Symonds were previously known.
The chest had been consigned to by a New England museum. The museum’s current mission statement focuses upon presenting and interpreting objects within its immediate geographic area, and Salem was outside of that area. The chest had previously belonged to Joseph Chandler who was a highly recognized architectural restorer during the 1920s and 1930s. His commissions included the Paul Revere house.
Skinner American furniture specialist Martha Hamilton commented, “We knew it would do well, but it was difficult to know how well since there had been restoration. Ultimately with objects of this rarity and age the market tolerates some loss of original parts. The chest had a good surface that escaped the Wallace Nutting recommendation to strip such pieces to their original wood. Much of the original architectural applied molding was intact, as were the rear stiles, the sides and back.”
She continued, “We advised clients that there were also some restorations. The most significant repair was a replaced top. Although with the other Symonds chests the tops were pine, this top was oak, and our examination indicated that this top was not original. I also felt the ball feet at the front were replacements since the other Symonds chests had stiles that continued to the floor as seen on the rear feet of this example. Also the pulls and the base molding on one side was replaced.”
Gross sales were $1,808,368 with ninety percent of the lots finding buyers. A full account of the auction will appear in a future issue.
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