THE RHODA BELDING CARVED AND JOINED OAK HADLEY CHEST WITH TWO DRAWERS, HAMPSHIRE COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS, CIRCA 1716.Est. $30,000-$40,000
Sold: $49,200 ($41,000)
The hinged lid above a mannerist carved case with three recessed panels containing stylized tulip, leaf, and heart motifs and the owner’s initials “RB” on the center panel above two long drawers; the whole supported by four stile feet. The lid an old replacement. Height 42 ½ inches, width 45 inches, depth 18 ½ inches.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, pioneer collectors of American furniture were eager to acquire a ‘Hadley’ chest as a keystone of their collections. Crafted in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, the ‘Hadley’ has been researched extensively over the past century, with Clair Franklin Luther’s, The Hadley Chest, published in 1935, being one of the first American furniture reference books dedicated to this group of chests. The Rhoda Belding example seen here is one of several that were made for relatives of the Belding and Beldon families who intermarried, sometimes making it difficult to identify the original owners. The other chests include the “SB” chest, “LB” chest, “MB” chest and the “HB” chest, believed to have been made for Rhoda’s half-sister, Sarah Belding (1701-1783), her cousin, Lydia Belding, her other half-sister, Mary Wells Belding (b. 1705), and her sister, Hannah Belding (b. 1681).
Provenance: Rhoda Belding and by descent in the family; to pioneer collector Charles Nicoll Talbot (1802-1874) and by descent in his family, until consigned to Christie’s Americana Sale, January 15-16, 2004, lot 424; and to the current owner.
Literature: For more information on the Belding families, see Philip Zea, “The Fruits of Oligarchy,” Vol. 72, pp. 1-65 in Old Time New England, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiques (now Historic New England). For information on ‘Hadley’ chests, see Clair Franklin Luther, “Supplement List of Hadley Chests,” Hartford: 1935, p.1.