Unusual paint-decorated architectural dower chest, Probably Pennsylvania, dated 1782


Yellow poplar, original painted decoration, initialed “R.E.” and dated “1782,” original lock, original wrought iron strap hinges and original feet, 28 ¾ x 48 ¾ x 23 inches. Two modern wooden cleats were added to the underside of the lid.

The basic form, construction, and wood choice are consistent with Pennsylvania-German workmanship. The case is assembled in the classic Germanic manner, with neat dovetailing on the corners of the case, applied moldings around the top and base secured by wooden pins, interior with till, typical ornamental wrought iron strap hinges, and handsome ogee bracket feet. A rare of unique feature are the tombstone-shaped panels being carved from the solid of the front and sides of the case. The only reference that we have found for this manner of construction is on the door of tall case clock decorated by Johannes Spitler illustrated and discussed in Stacy C. Hollander, Ed., American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York, 2001), p. 470. For a dower chest exhibiting ogee bracket feet of a nearly identical profile see Jean Lipman and Alice Winchester, The Flowering of American Folk Art 1776-1876 (New York, 1974), p. 230.


Lawrence E. King, Monroe, Center, IL; Annual Auction of Antiques America Fairhaven, Ohio, Garth’s Auction Barn, Inc., Delaware, OH, September 8, 1973, lot 281;

David A. Schorsch, Woodbury, CT;

Collection of Mickey and Jill Baten, White Plains, NY


Advertisment for David A. Schorsch American Antiques, Inc., The Catalogue of Antiques and Fine Art, Early Summer, 2003, p. 79.

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