Some days are better than others

 After living with antiques and collecting folk art most of our lives we are now living the dream of being dealers.  And we love every minute of it.  We freely admit that doing shows is our least favorite part but, all in all, we are having a ball.

A couple of weeks ago we were up in the Connecticut River Valley trying to fill some of the neat things we have sold recently.  We spotted a fragment of a very early blanket chest.  It was just the front panel but we immediately knew it was something special.

The carving is bold.  Two large circular figures, side by side, fill the entire panel.  Concentric circles radiate from the central floral motifs.  The corners have spandrel carvings and the areas between the circles are filled with concentric line carvings.

The pine panel has the central key hole and the two edges show that the chest was originally nailed together.  The upper molding piece is still attached (note the mitered ends) and it appears that molding pieces were used to cover the nailed edges as well as add an architectural element to the design.  There are significant traces of early paint- a white that may have been a sizing, green and black.

This is truly a great example of Folk Art at its best- wonderful design and bold and unprofessional carving.

We are really excited about this piece because, with the exception of the Hadley chests of Western Massachusetts, carved chests are very rare.  Judging from the construction and material, we suspect this chest is quite early, perhaps dating from the late 1600's or early 1700's.  And while the Hadley chests were typically in oak with frame and panel construction and flat carved (from our English heritage) this panel came from a chest with more country origin.  Perhaps this was an attempt to emulate the Hadley craftsmen.

A search of the internet has not turned up any American carved chests that resemble this piece at all.  In fact, other than the Hadley chests, we can't find another American carved chest, period.

So that was a good day for us, a very good day.  And days like that keep us on the hunt.    


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