November 28, 2023
This seed chest was made about 1870 out of inexpensive wood for a practical purpose. Now it can command a higher price than some designer pieces.

Famous names add to the value of an antique, even if we know more about the maker’s work than about the maker. Few names of antique folk artists and country crafters are known today, and even less is known about the people behind them. John Boyer, who made seed chests in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the mid- to late 19th century, is one of these crafters.

This seed chest, attributed to Boyer, sold for an impressive $28,320 at a Conestoga auction. The chest features grain painting, a popular decoration at the time. Grain painting meant painting an inexpensive material, such as pine, to resemble an expensive wood, such as mahogany. Boyer chests have a distinctive style of grain painting with diagonal stripes on the sides and vertical lines on the front drawers, which are visible on the chest pictured. We may not know his life story, but John Boyer clearly left his mark on the antiques world. 


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