Set of 8 Shaker, New Lebanon, New York oval bentwood, c. 19th century
Set of 8 Shaker, New Lebanon, New York oval bentwood assembled covered boxes with swallow tail joints, c. 19th century
Replacement Value: $93,000
Bentwood objects are those made by wetting wood (either by soaking or by steaming), then bending it and letting it harden into curved shapes and patterns. In furniture making this method is often used in the production of rocking chairs, cafe chairs, and other light furniture. The iconic No. 14 chair by Thonet is a well-known design based on the technique. The process is in widespread use for making casual and informal furniture of all types, particularly seating and table forms. It is also a popular technique in the worldwide production of furniture with frames made of heavy cane, which is commonly imported into European and Western shops. Bentwood boxes are a traditional item made by the First Nations people of the North American west coast including the Haida, Gitxsan, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Sugpiaq, Unangax, Yup’ik, Inupiaq and Coast Salish. These boxes are generally made out of one piece of wood that is steamed and bent to form a box. Traditional uses of the boxes were varied and included storage of food goods, clothing and for burial. They were often without decoration while others were decorated elaborately.