Featured Bartram Family Joiner Part 2

Discussion in 'Furniture' started by James Conrad, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    Examination

    pt1.jpg
    I found the Bartram Family joiner chest over drawers in a corner on the balcony at Pook & Pook, Inc. It did not rate the main gallery on the ground floor, but then, it is not a complex furniture form, it’s not made of walnut , and while its primary wood species is a softwood, it is not paint decorated.
    pt2.jpg
    pt4.jpg
    There is a surprise waiting when you open the lid and drawers – all of the interior surfaces, except for the till, have newspapers affixed to them. The pages of newsprint are from various papers published in Philadelphia and West Chester (not far the auction house) and range in date from the late 1830s to the mid-1850s.
    pt5.jpg
    pt7.jpg
    There is a till is on the right side of the chest compartment (proper left) that is made from riven white oak. Two small drawers that sit below the till are also made of riven oak but with riven white cedar bottoms. These dovetails are not wedged but the dovetails of the hard pine chest and the drawers below it are. The front, sides, and back are rebated and the drawers run on their bottoms.
    pt14.jpg
    pt16.jpg
    The brass hardware is original, the chest compartment lock is replaced. The drops are attached with iron cotter pins.
    pt20.jpg
    The back board is yellow-poplar, the only use of this species in the chest. This is also the case for the spice box attributed to this joiner.
    pt21.jpg
    pt22.jpg

    The oak feet are turned in the idiosyncratic design of other turnings attributed to this shop. There is local wear to the largest element of the feet but otherwise they are in very crisp condition and turning gouge marks are visible on the more protected areas such as the tall reel or neck.

    A chest over drawers was a less expensive option than a four-tier chest of drawers. It also may have been easier to maneuver up winder stairs – in some cases, cost may not have been the main influence towards purchase. John Head charged Christopher Topham 1 pound, 5 shillings for a “pin (pine) chest with 2 drawers”, less than half the cost of a many of his four-tier chests of drawers. As we don’t know what Head’s chest looked like, we cannot directly compare it with the chest at Pook & Pook, Inc. Did Head provide a till – with the addition of a pair of drawers below? Were there locks on the lower drawers?

    All in all, the Bartram family joiners chest over drawers appears to be the finest and costliest version of the form available at the time. There is the same level of workmanship seen in the more complex and expensive furniture from this shop, good quality, old growth wood is used throughout, all three storage areas are fit with iron locks, brass hardware is present (iron, instead of brass, cotter pins were used, either a slight downgrade or brass cotters were not available at the time the chest was made), and there is a till with additional drawers below. All standing on those superb, skillfully made feet.
     
    Aquitaine, Figtree3, cxgirl and 8 others like this.
  2. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Very nice, James. Was the wood originally varnished in some way? Stained maybe?
    And will you be bidding? In that case, this could be good:
     
  3. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    I thought painted & stripped but Chris says no, not paint decorated, dunno about varnish/stain, i didn't ask.
    Yep, an ugly duckling as far as auction house is concerned, it DIDN'T RATE! See what i am talking about? SCANDALOUS! Yes, i am bidding, it's an important piece of early furniture and it's ALL THERE! The feet, drawers, till, lid and brass hardware are all original, an incredible survivor considering it's 300 years old. Sale starts in 1 hour from now.
     
    Figtree3, cxgirl, i need help and 5 others like this.
  4. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    I need a blanket chest like i need another hole in my head, i have 4 or 5 already, 2 in the house and at least 2 more in the barn but hey, it's an important piece and up for grabs so i have no choice really.
     
    Aquitaine, cxgirl, Bakersgma and 4 others like this.
  5. judy

    judy Well-Known Member

    Best of luck James!
     
    Aquitaine, cxgirl, kyratango and 2 others like this.
  6. NewEngland

    NewEngland Well-Known Member

    Fingers crossed. It's a beauty. You can always find a place for it in your home.
     
    Aquitaine, cxgirl, judy and 2 others like this.
  7. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    I guess, it's not on my list of early furniture forms, i have to many blanket chests already. Thing is, it's weird how i came upon this english joiner, very similar to bird chest of drawers, there is a bit of serendipity to my collecting, always has been. I am in the market for an early box, NOT another blanket chest.
    I have no choice here, it's to important a piece for me to not at least throw my hat in the ring and try and get it.
    This piece doesn't rate!
    It's an ugly duckling and no paint decoration!
    English joiners in early 18th century bad!
    Bla Bla Bla
     
    Aquitaine, cxgirl, Bakersgma and 3 others like this.
  8. kyratango

    kyratango Bug jewellery addiction!

    Fingers crossed!:)
     
    Aquitaine, cxgirl, NewEngland and 2 others like this.
  9. silverthwait

    silverthwait Well-Known Member

    Go for it! Bartram is a BIG name in Philadelphia.
     
  10. kyratango

    kyratango Bug jewellery addiction!

  11. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    LOL, That may be but, who was their family joiner in 1720?!
     
    judy likes this.
  12. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    I lost, my high bid was $2250. it sold for $2375. Still, i struck a blow for early english immigrant joiners, i pushed the winner all the way from $400 which i thought was incredibly low considering the piece. Estimate was $800-$1200
     
  13. silverthwait

    silverthwait Well-Known Member

    Rats! Next time...!
     
  14. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    I think you did fine. It looks like there was paint in the grain in pic 6 and others which makes me think it is missing original paint? The finish on it does not look old to me. And legs look newer than I would expect. Of course I’m 1000 miles away so if it looked right to you up close that is much more important. But maybe the questions can make the loss easier.
     
    kyratango, judy and i need help like this.
  15. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    LOL, yes, let us hope. Ruth is ALREADY betting against me on an early table! I got an early philly walnut tea table last year, it had riven oak drawer construction, but i lose much more than i win, that's for sure! I hope this chest went to a museum up there, the way this chest was treated kinda demonstrates the snobbiness in the arts world. It is an important piece i think but as far as the prigs in arts are concerned, DROP DEAD!

    That's what i was thinking Jeff, i asked Chris about that & no, not paint decorated & stripped as pics would suggest. Chris would know & he examined the chest personally, Christopher Storb is the Dietrich American Foundation Project Conservator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Good guy! he helped me last year when i was hesitating on that riven oak construction on tea table.
    For those interested, Chris writes a blog that i follow
    https://cstorb.wordpress.com/
     
    Figtree3, cxgirl and judy like this.
  16. Jeff Drum

    Jeff Drum Well-Known Member

    Oh, I see that text was written by him so you didn’t see it yourself in person? If you didn’t get a chance to preview, I think it’s probably for the best you didn’t win anyway. Experts aren’t always right and sometimes miss things. Sometimes you don’t know the full truth of a piece until it’s been in your possession for years, under repeated observation. What was his explanation for the surface finish?
     
    cxgirl, kyratango and judy like this.
  17. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    No, I did not see it personally which is explained in part 1 but, I trust Chris's examination completely. This guy knows what he is talking about when it comes to early american furniture in the Delaware River Valley (philly being the largest city there). He handles these objects every day and his life work revolves around these furniture objects and study of same.
    You can't resolve every issue with one examination however, the fact that he identified this piece as possibly built by the Bartram Family Joiner, first by an auction photo & then confirmed by a single personal examination & general condition report testifies that this man is indeed an authority on these particular objects.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted
Similar Threads: Bartram Family
Forum Title Date
Furniture Bartram Family Joiner Jan 12, 2019
Furniture Family furniture Sunday at 12:53 AM
Furniture Family heirloom chair. Need info! Mar 19, 2018
Furniture Need help identifying family table, buffet and chairs Nov 20, 2017
Furniture Please help identify this antique family piece. Oct 28, 2017

Share This Page