I have been contemplating a mid-eighteenth-century Virginia Walnut chest for some time, but until lately I didn’t have any specifics to hand. I could have drawn on several decades of experience and constructed a chest in the style of, but I much prefer making faithful copies – insofar as I’m capable of – either from extant examples (I have dimensions and dozens of patterns taken from original pieces of furniture) or from photos and descriptions from reliable sources.
Recently however, I located a picture of a quality example …
With the introduction of the Naval Stores Act in 1721, reduced tariffs saw Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) arrive into Britain from Virginia in great quantities, but Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole abolished all taxation of imported timber in 1733 which act heralded the beginning of the age of mahogany. The use of walnut for such a modish chest at this date is therefore comparatively rare; however, with its Chippendale bracket feet and mouldings, the chest is very much in the ‘mahogany’ style.
One issue I have with this particular chest is the handles which, although of a commensurate age, are of later implementation. I enlarged the image and discernible scars on the drawer fronts tell of earlier circular backplates.
I’ll make a punctilious decision when the time comes and select appropriate handles.