Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unique Find: Empire Chest of Drawers

Unique Chest of Drawers at Antique Store

A little over a week ago, my husband and I were in Buena Vista, Virginia.  We love visiting the area because of the beautiful mountains, unique sites, and for all the wonderful antique stores in nearby Lexington.  During this past trip, we found a new antique store in downtown Buena Vista.

The store front used to be a local hardware store, but it had closed within the past few years.  The owner pulled up the linoleum in the store and discovered a beautiful hard wood floor underneath.  As we talked with him about his new venture, an antique store, he explained that a friend suggested that he put some furniture and glassware in the store and see if it sells.  What is the point of leaving an empty store front empty when waiting for it to sell?  My husband and I are more than thankful for his venture, because we were able to find the perfect chest of drawers to replace the small children's dresser that we were still using in our bedroom.

I saw it first.  I walked over to this substantial solid wood chest of drawers and could tell that it was an older piece.  I was the one who was supposed to find a dresser for myself, but this chest of drawers was a little to big and manly for my taste.  So I pointed the piece out to my husband and kept walking.

My husband walked over to the piece and fell in love.  He loved the hand cut dove tailed drawers, he loved the thick pieces of wood used for its construction, and he loved the spacious drawers.  When we looked at it together, we realized that the piece was constructed with cut nails and was definitely earlier than the 1900's.  One look at the price tag and we were hooked, this chest of drawers was coming home to Mississippi.

Let me tell you right now, when a piece of furniture is made right it is extremely heavy!  The interior of the drawers were made of pine, but the exterior was some other wood that definitely added to the weight.  With some difficulty, we loaded the chest of drawers into our truck and brought it inside for the night until the next day when we rented a U-haul trailer to tow behind the truck.

That night we did a little research.  The tag in the antique store had suggested that the chest of drawers was Empire style, so we had a good starting point.  When we began to research Empire style, we found that the style originated over in Europe.  However, this piece had nothing to do with the European Empire style.  This was actually an American Empire Style piece dating from around 1850 to 1860.  Typically, most American Empire furniture pieces were made with mahogany; therefore, we are pretty sure that we have identified the exterior wood on the piece.  The biggest difficulty in determining the type of wood used in the chest of drawers was in the fact that over the years the finish had formed a beautiful cracked texture over the entire piece.  Our new chest of drawers was an American Empire Chest of Drawers from the 1850's constructed with beautiful mahogany.

Comparison Shot:  Old versus New
The chest of drawers made the trip home with no trouble.  My husband was more than happy to replace the small children's dresser, which he had been using out of necessity, with an outstanding antique chest of drawers that more than doubled his storage space.  Though the piece is large, we were able to integrate it into our room across from our bed.  What a wonderful piece of furniture to wake up to every day!  I am truly in love with furniture and enjoy every day that brings me closer to filling my home with unique furniture finds!

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