Chicago Antiques Guide

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1920's Dresser

Posted Wednesday, January 11 by Brian

I recently bought this federal dresser at an estate (storage) auction.
I am trying to find out the value of it. I would love to know if you have any further info about this piece.

The detailed picture I included with the stamps on it is the top right
hand drawer. I have also included a picture of what appears to be a signature of Louis on the same drawer that is stamped Inspected by Bergers. It is inlaid with bellflowers on the sides and in the center top. The bottom is inlaid all across with small diamond shapes
Thanks! for any info you can give. Noel
1920's Dresser.jpg
To start, I wouldn't call this piece of furniture "federal". Federal furniture is generally considered to be from the late 1700's and early 1800's. This piece is quite typical of the furniture mass produced in this country during the 1920's. At the time, it would have been considered contemporary. The inlaid bellflowers motif may have been inspired by some federal furniture, but that's about it.

When I first looked at the picture shown, something struck me as odd. It took a few seconds, but eventually realized that those short posts weren't right. They were originally about 24-30 inches high and supported a mirror between them. None of the markings tell us which company made the piece. But the two inspection stamps imply that the piece was manufactured for a retail store named Bergers. The first inpection stamp is "Inspected Oct 9, 1923", and was probably done by the manufacturer. The second stamp "Inspected Jan 23, 1924 Bergers" was probably done when the the piece was delivered to Bergers for sale to the public. The hand written "Louis" was probably one of the inspectors, who was required to sign off on the condition.

In addition to the missing mirror and cut-down supports, I noticed, on the larger and more detailed photos that you sent, some missing hardware and chipped veneer. Even in excellent condition, this style of furniture is not in great demand. I just sold a similar dresser with the mirror and a matching bed for $270. It sat in the shop for about 5 months before selling.

Furniture manufacturers of the time had a "good, better, best" grading system for the quality of the different lines they produced. When new, this would have been either in the better or best grade, because of the inlaid detailing. But the condition of the piece now will hold its value down to the $50-$75 range.

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