Spoils of Time Asian Ceramics and Works of Art

American Federal Mohagany Inlaid Firescreen with Hinged Work Surface

American Federal Mohagany Inlaid Firescreen with Hinged Work Surface


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Directory: Antiques: Furnishings: Furniture: American: Federal: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 1317909
Spoils of Time
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Frederick, MD 21701


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 $4,400.00 
An unusual and dramatic firescreen abattant. It reminds me of some of the smaller, New York classical parlor furniture I've seen in Southern house tours with late Federal drawing and music rooms furnished with pieces imported by successful merchants - almost, but not quite, over the top in their design yet direct in their function. So an argument could be made for high, New York city style. And the inlaid oval in the center, with pie crimped edge, is reminiscent of some New England work. The passive function is that of a firescreen and explains the distress to the side with inlay which likely faced the fireplace (rather than the upholstered side.) The "surprise" is the enclosed work area with the hinged top dropping to provide a writing surface (abattant [fr], "put horizontal") below the interior fitted with letter or document slots (only the back one of three dividing slats remaining - evidence of two more, and three segments which would have divided at least one of two lateral slots into three sections.) Perhaps because of the narrow profile, there appears to be no secondary wood under or behind any of the solid mahogany. Condition is quite good considering the likely heat exposure as a firescreen and probable stress to the hinged top which relies upon the case as a counter-stop. We had distress to the inlaid surface evened out, filled and finished - disturbing old finish as less as possible - to make it presentable for the decorator yet acceptable to the collector. We left the old upholstery (possibly original) alone for the next steward to decide. Our restorer (specializing in period furniture) had also never before encountered this design. Our photographs illustrate the character of the old, now serviceable inlaid surface. Ca 1800 - 1810. Height, about 42 3/4 inches. Width, about 21 5/8 inches (about 22 1/4 inches wide at the trestle base). We are offering American furniture from our personal collection while lightening up in preparation for a distant move - reasonable offers entertained.