Q: My grandmother recently passed away, leaving behind a house full of antiques and collectibles, including this sofa which she inherited from an elderly aunt who lived in New Orleans. My grandmother said her aunt was wealthy and that the sofa was a prized possession. We like it and are left wondering what to do next. Can you tell us anything about it?
A: We can see why the sofa (or, more accurately, settee, which is smaller than a sofa) was a prized possession of your grandmother and her aunt. You have an ornate and beautifully carved Victorian Rococo Revival (1845-1865) laminated rosewood settee. The settee was made by J. & J.W. Meeks, a prominent furniture maker in New York City, in what is known as the Stanton Hall pattern. Joseph Meeks (1771–1868) started his cabinetmaking business in New York City in 1797. His brother, John, joined the business, and the company became J. & J.W. Meeks in 1836. Later, Joseph’s sons joined the business. The company closed in 1868 when Joseph Meeks died.
The company made fine furniture in neoclassical styles. Their furniture was elegant, stylish and expensive. It could be found in upper-class homes across the country and was especially popular in plantation houses of the Gulf South. It is not surprising, then, that the piece originally came from a wealthy aunt living in New Orleans. Meeks made chairs for the White House during both James K. Polk’s and Abraham Lincoln’s administrations. Meeks chairs were used in Lincoln’s Cabinet Room and are shown in the painting “First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln.”
Depending on the condition, your piece could be worth between $2,000 and $3,000, perhaps more depending on where it is sold.
J. & J.W. Meeks Rococo Revival sofa.
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