Friday, July 16, 2010

Sugar Desk – Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Blog - Rarer than a Sugar Chest

Very seldom do I write on furniture but today is the exception. I received an email from a wonderful young lady asking about a sugar chest that had been passed down through her family. The history really got me interested even though it soon became apparent that the item wasn't for sale. Here is one of the interesting things that I was able to share with her: she has a sugar desk which is even rarer that a sugar chest.

It seems that her family are descendents of J.C. Penny. The Penny family moved from Virginia to Missouri after passing through Kentucky. While in Kentucky near the end of the 18th century, they acquired a sugar desk which has stayed in the family ever since. The difference between a sugar chest and a sugar desk are the drawers on the inside. I received this information from my friend Cecil, in Kentucky.

This piece was auctioned in 1983 and was advertised as over 200 years old then. The lady that I was corresponding with is in possession of the deck because her father, who was a descendent of the Pennys, purchased it for her at that auction. Here is what is so exciting. A sugar chest will start at $4000 if it is in original condition and the price can only go up from there. A sugar desk, however, is even more rare than a chest so this piece with its provenance and age, approximately 1780's, could fetch a figure that would astonish the most discriminating buyer. Just as a side bar, this was before Kentucky actually became a state. Kentucky became a state in 1792.

All you readers now will be keeping an eye out for sugar chests and desks I am sure. But here is a little information that you will need in your search. A sugar chest or deck will usually be smaller than a blanket chest and will have a divider cutting it in halves on the inside. Don't be fooled by the dishonest dealer who makes a fake sugar chest by putting a divider into a blanket chest. The more original the piece the higher the price will be.

Do you know how to distinguish a Kentucky piece from a Tennessee piece? Most Kentucky chests are made from cherry wood with poplar as the secondary wood while Tennessee pieces are made from walnut wood. Be assured a sugar chest or sugar desk will always be a real treasure and you will have no trouble selling it for a pretty penny.

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