From the Worthologists’ Files: French Provincial Dining Suite
One of the advantages of being an appraiser is the sheer volume of incredible things one comes across on a weekly basis. Not all are hugely valuable, antique, rare or even all that sought after. Many times their value is only sentimental, but they often come with priceless provenances. Our Worthologist file cabinet is a treasure chest of such items– appraisal requests from our clients ranging from stuffed aardvarks to folk art zithers, all of which I’ll cover here in this column.
Not all of the pieces we have appraised are antiques. Many are mid-20th century designer items, or simply sentimental pieces received as gifts or inheritances. Even the most modestly valued items have a history, sometimes more interesting than the item itself. Our client had this to say about this piece:
“My parents bought this suite about 1980, it never got much use except for holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. I inherited it, but have no room for it and it’s been put in storage for the time being. I have no idea if they bought it new or used, but would like to know a bit about it and what I could expect to get for it at auction.”
The style of your suite is what’s referred to as “French Provincial,” a simplified version of 18th Century Louis XV furniture. This style was extremely popular, produced during the turn of the 19th Century, the 1930’s and again in the 1960’s. The best pieces were made in Europe, but furniture of this style was also produced by nearly every major North American furniture manufacturer.
The European examples of French Provincial /French Country differ from the North American varieties in that in many cases the pieces were hand built. Such pieces were made using the same construction techniques like pegged mortise and tenon joints, hand carving and wrought iron hardware that were used to construct the 18th Century originals.
Your suite is one of the North American versions made during the 1960’s, which tend to be constructed of veneered plywood with solid hardwood frames and use machine carving and joint construction. The style has most recently been revived as “French Country” during the late 1990’s. The style is not currently in vogue at the moment, so values for such suites are modest at the present time.
A comparable suite in good condition sold retail would list in the $1800.00- $2400.00 range.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement. He can be reached through his website Antique-Appraise.com.
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