Lost Heirlooms Found in Museum

Title

Lost Heirlooms Found in Museum

Subject

Subject - Early American Furniture - Boston

Description

In 1976 Nathan Liverant and Son, an antique dealer from Colchester, CT purchased family heirlooms - a japanned Boston high chest and dressing table from the 91 year old grandaughter of Elizabeth L. Cogswell Dixon, who needed the money for medical bills. Selling heirlooms to a private party had not been family tradition. If a family piece had historical significance it was donated to a public institution, namely the Connecticut Historical Society.  Sen. James Dixon, her grandfather began this legacy in 1842 as a life member of the Connecticut Historical Society at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

The purchase price was $85,000.00 for the pieces.  He then sold them to Albert Sack on behalf of his clients, the Kaufman's, renown collectors and philanthropists.

In the 1980's, the Kaufman Collection of American Furniture was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The family heirlooms were included in the exhibit. 

In 1991 Israel Sack, Inc bought the pieces back from the Kaufman's for a public museum and where the heirlooms reside today.

The high chest was a treasured by one family for more than 250 years, being passed down over the generations of New England ancestors. Little did they know the value of these rare pieces. The high chest being the only known example of Boston japanned furniture by John Scottow, who had worked with William Randle in Boston.

Rest easy, the high chest so treasured as a family heirloom now has a permanent home, no longer within a parlor seen by only a few but accessible to museum visitors and furniture historians of the future.  These lost heirlooms can be found in the American collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, Virginia.

Creator

Caroline Welling Van Deusen, Project Archivist

Original Format

American Arts furniture, Japanned High Chest 1700-1790
In an old 2002 antiques article I discovered the whereabouts of my aunt's high chest she reluctantly sold in the 1970's. Along with the whereabouts of the high chest, I learned details about its craftsmanship and aesthetic value. My aunt would be pleased to learn that the owner of her high chest is now at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, VA.

In 1976 Zeke Liverant, an antique dealer from Colchester, CT purchased the high chest. He sold it to Albert Sack and the Kaufman's, renown collectors and philanthropists purchased it from Mr. Salk. In 1980's, the high chest was part of an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In 1991 Israel Sack, Inc bought it back for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where it is today.

The high chest had been a treasured family heirloom for more than 250 years being passed down over the generations from our New England ancestors. Collectors and museums value our high chest because it is the only known example of Boston japanned furniture by John Scottow, who had been a neighbor of the Abbott and Cogswell families of Boston.

Up until 1970's family papers or items with historical significance were never sold to private collectors. They were always donated to the Connecticut Historical Society. our gr-gr grandfather began the legacy in 1842 as a life member of the Connecticut Historical Society at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Rest easy dear aunt, the high chest you so treasured now has a notable home, not in our family parlor but accessible to museum visitors and furniture historians of the future --- your high chest now resides as the anchor for American collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.

Caroline Welling Van Deusen

Files

Japanned_High_Chest_owned_by_Elsa 75x75.jpg
ElsasProspectAveParlor.jpg
ElsaInFarmingtonAveParlor.jpg

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Date Added
April 11, 2012
Collection
FURNITURE
Item Type
Still Image
Tags
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Citation
Caroline Welling Van Deusen, Project Archivist, “Lost Heirlooms Found in Museum,” E - A r c h i v e s , accessed August 24, 2017, http://citizenarchivist.omeka.net/items/show/543.