Featured John Bieber & the Edelweiss Chest

Discussion in 'Furniture' started by James Conrad, Mar 10, 2020.

  1. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    Alrighty then, a chest is coming to market that in the description said "Berks County, Pennsylvania painted pine dower chest, dated 1780, decorated in the manner of Bieber".
    OK i thought, it's pine so it couldn't be a "real" Bieber chest because that family of joiners which owned a water powered sawmill in PA used tulip poplar almost exclusively in their furniture. Perhaps an antique chest painted recently in the style of Bieber?
    Naturally i emailed seller asking about any details and or additional photos and received this reply back.
    Condition Report
    Dower chest
    Significant touch up to decoration, majority is a later overpaint. See attached images.

    That's it i wondered? Geez thanks! don't strain yourself in giving construction details although i was happy they did give additional pics.
    After examining the new photos i now think i have a handle on this chest, first off, it isn't pine, it's tulip poplar and two, i thought i had seen this chest before in a publication on Bieber several years ago. More on that in a min, as for now i am the high bidder :happy: however, if this chest is what i now think it is, that will change! :(

  2. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Gorgeous. Here's hoping you score a WIN with this!
  3. judy

    judy Well-Known Member

    Best of luck!

    Wonderful piece!
  4. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    And amazing what his great great grandson Justin did too, eh?:phantom:
    Rose M. Gates, KSW, cxgirl and 4 others like this.
  5. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    James, it IS absolutely GORGEOUS!!! But a question? It doesn't kill the value to have over-painted it?? Well, oops, TWO questions....is that metal support on the left side of the lid there because it NEEDS it??? I mean, IF it's 1780, not surprising that it might need support here and there....just a question!!:)
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
  6. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    For those not familiar with Bieber, he is relatively new to the 18th century pennsylvania german paint decorated furniture world, indeed, in Monroe Fabian's 1978 ground breaking book "The Pennsylvania-German Decorated Chest", he is not even mentioned although one of his chests is photographed.
    In any event, i found that article on John Bieber and a "new" discovered "Edelweiss" chest published in 2012, a few excerpts below

    ". Jacob and son, John Bieber, had a water powered sawmill in the Oley Hills run by the Bieber creek soon after their patriarch, Johann Bieber immigrated here in 1744, with two other brothers. French Huguenot pioneers from Alsace, France, they settled with other Rhinelanders who spoke a Palatine German dialect in the Oley Hills which was near Lobachsville, founded by Peter Lobach in 1745, a fellow French Huguenot. Called the Alsatian Hills by their native countrymen who spoke mostly PA Dietsch, in America.
    Jacob Bieber's son John followed with two twin flat hearts but included different variations of designs within each cheek or lobe of the large flat heart, many of which followed a geometric pattern, like hex signs or barn stars, since the Biebers were skilled joiners and sawers. But, on occasion, John, who favored flowers, would paint a dogwood flower in the center of each lobe of the flat heart. But herein lies the secret to this unusual 1780 Rhineland designed chest. Even though it had two enormous flat hearts with other geometric designs and compass arches highlighting the motif, the central figure of each lobe of the hearts was a noble black 'edelweiss' flower which was reminiscent of the Bieber's homeland in the Palatinate near Hirschland. One of their Rhineland ministers who crossed off Biebers on the church rolls as they sailed to America in disappointment crossed off several Bieber names, together, and in German wrote in the margin they have 'all gone' to America!
    Thinking that John or Jacob Bieber made a mistake with his compass drawing of a perpendicular hex sign, we noticed that this unusual designed chest had six edelweiss flowers sprouting from three white flat hearts on each corner of the dower chest with the elaborate tulip shaped escutcheon design in the middle. They were not barn stars, but an edelweiss flower theme which spread their flower like petals standing upright in each cheek of the flat hearts! A native Rhineland symbol of love used by John Bieber in the 1780s on his dower chests. However true edelweiss star like flowers are white blooming high in the Swiss Alps. But Bieber alternated the colors of his edelweiss flower petals including red, white and blue for American on his later 1792 chests."

    Black & White photo of chest in above article

    5b842fd7baa82.image (1).jpg
  7. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    After getting additional photographs, I am convinced both chests above, the one for sale now & the one in the 2012 article are the exact same chest.

    12th Woman, cxgirl, kyratango and 8 others like this.
  8. Christmasjoy

    Christmasjoy Well-Known Member

    Truly BEAUTIFUL ... LOVE IT !!! ... Joy. :):):)
    KikoBlueEyes and Aquitaine like this.
  9. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    BOY, I HOPE SO!!! otherwise i have NO CHANCE at this chest.:(
    John Bieber, although unknown until very recently, i think holds the world record for a PA german paint decorated piece of furniture.
    In 2010, this Bieber Schrank/Kas sold for almost 1 million USD


    Metal support? I don't see any metal:confused:
  10. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    LOL, KNEW it was commin! :p:eek::oops:

    Dear james,

    Your absentee bid of 1100 on the lot 1138, Berks County, Pennsylvania painted dower chest has been outbid
    KikoBlueEyes and judy like this.
  11. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    I ABSOLUTELY could be wrong, James, but it's also on the image of the 2012 pictured chest......here's where I mean......and I'm sorry about what I just read above me!! Doesn't mean the end, though!!

  12. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    Obviously, this chest HAS been ID'ed in fact as a Bieber chest and, over painted or not, i have no clue where this is going but, the trend ain't good for me!
  13. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    Hard to tell but, i don't think metal. More likely a "breadboard" end that is separating a bit. I enlarged that area below

  14. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    And here it is on the 2012 image.....looks like it was blended somehow and doesn't go ALL the way down the side though, too!! There's a small 'jut' where I mean.....the image was blurry to begin with......

  15. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    It's ALL OK with me! Just wanted to point out what I saw!! And I have NO clue what they might have used to maybe strengthen it...you'd most likely know better than I!!!:) AND still good luck with it!!!
  16. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    Yeah, tough trying to figure out what's what with photos alone and old furniture but i'd guess on that end it has a "breadboard" end that has some issues.
    Here is a table i have that illustrates what a breadboard end is/does, it helps keep a wide board from cupping and also gives edge a finished look.


    taverntable endR.jpg
  17. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    I 'get' the breadboard end....have numerous antique ones, just don't get that support.........
  18. James Conrad

    James Conrad Well-Known Member

    NEVERMIND all that! :hilarious: It's a 250 year old chest and we will stipulate it has some issues, PAINT for 1 thing! :hilarious:
    THE QUESTION IS, how many dollars?:p:cigar:
  19. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Ah, up that bid! It's only money!!
    cxgirl, kyratango, Firemandk and 3 others like this.
  20. Ghopper1924

    Ghopper1924 Well-Known Member

    Another Bieber chest.....
    Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 1.42.38 PM.png
    Lucille.b, cxgirl, kyratango and 7 others like this.
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