Dressing Table Sells at Sotheby’s

The March 2022 issue of Maine Antique Digest has an article by Lita Solis-Cohen on the sale of the Pfaffenroth collection that was sold at Sotheby’s on January 19. The dressing table I restored in 1993 is illustrated in the article. The caption mentions my blog posts about the restoration and how Erik Gronning found my card glued to an interior surface. Estimated by Sotheby’s to sell between $5,000 and $8,000, it sold to Graham Arader III for $5670. That’s less than a decent modern reproduction. Substantially less than a great one. Seems like a good deal for an object that, while having undergone an appreciable restoration, still has much original material intact and that can be attributed to a known cabinetmaker’s shop. 

10 thoughts on “Dressing Table Sells at Sotheby’s

  1. I have collected furniture fragments since 1979 and first saw this dressing table when it first sold at Sothebys nearly thirty years ago. I admired it then and bid on it as a fragment but was left in the dust when it sold for over $20,000 at that time. I recall thinking I had picked a good piece when it far exceeded its estimate back then. I assumed someone may have owned the matching high chest to explain the high price considering its condition issues. Flash forward to the last few years and my coming across your blog to see the same dressing table treated to such an outstanding conservation by you. When the auction sale at Sotheby’s came online and I saw the same dressing table with that modest estimate I decided to attempt to buy it for myself and arranged to phone bid. I was walking out of the preview at Christie’s when Erik Gronning called to apologize for not phoning me in time to bid, and told me it what it brought at the sale. I was very upset. This was the only disappointment I had during Americana Week. As a consolation prize I bought a nice fragment of a McIntyre type bellows from the same auction later that afternoon. Luckily I found out that Graham Arader had purchased the dressing table, and after telling him what had transpired with my missed bud, he sold it to me at a very fair mark up. I grew up in Philadelphia and have always admired the work of Thomas Tuft and feel privileged to have this beautiful piece sitting across from my bed. As a dealer, if I ever obtained such a piece in prime condition I would never think of keeping it, but in this case it seemed fated. And as Paul Harvey might have said “Now you know the rest of the story.”

    • David,

      Thank you for writing, I’m very happy to know where the dressing table landed. And what a story of you following it since 1993 and winding up with it all these years later. I’d be happy for to be able to see it every day as well! Glad to know someone is appreciating it for what it is.

      Yes, over $20,000 in 1993, then the restoration on top of that. For me it was a tremendous learning experience. It was truly a confidence builder to have completed that job and be proud of it. Thank you for your kind words about the conservation.

      I’ll add that in 1993 I took the dressing table to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and put it next to the labeled Tufft table. They are identical in every measurement. I took the original leg and put it next to the labeled side chair at Winterthur, also identical.

      Thanks again for related the rest of the story. Enjoy the table!


    • Wonderful story, thanks for sharing! Many collectors have similar stories, I know I do, where after losing out on a prized piece that is acquired later, in my case 5 years later.
      Many are dismayed at the “depression” at antique furniture prices these days for different reasons although I am not one of them. It has allowed me to acquire pieces I could only dream about 20 years ago so there is always a flip side to present market conditions.

  2. I see the looking glass I worked on was in the sale. There was considerable damage to the gilding on floral basket final and left & right drops on the pediment, and bottom rail. Do you have the final sale price of the piece?

  3. Hi Chris,

    I’m hoping you get this Email. I enjoy following your research and lost details of how things were done. I met you a long time ago at the Philadelphia Furniture workshop. I’m the Programming Chair for the Central Jersey Woodworkers club. I wanted to see if you would be interested in coming to speak to our group.We meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7pm in Marlboro, NJ. http://www.cjwa.org

    Please let me know if you would be interested? Thanks, Marc Gaertner Cell 732-754-9371

    On Sun, Feb 27, 2022 at 1:51 PM In Proportion to the Trouble wrote:

    > Christopher Storb posted: ” The March 2022 issue of Maine Antique Digest > has a article by Lita Solis-Cohen on the sale of the Pfaffenroth collection > that was sold at Sotheby’s on January 19. The dressing table I restored in > 1993 is illustrated in the article. The caption mentions m” >

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