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Pair of knife boxes

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Odessa, Delaware



14 7/8 in x 9 in x 11 1/4 in


Mahogany; tulip poplar

Credit Line

Historic Odessa Foundation, The David Wilson Mansion, Inc.

Accession Number



Printed labels attached to the bottom of each box read, “KIMON NICOLAIDES / Washington Art Galleries / 1409 H Street, N.W., Washington, D. C. / FOREIGN WORKS OF ART AND ANTIQUE FURNITURE. AUCTIONEERS AND APPRAISERS.”


Ex coll. Mrs. E. Tatnall (Mary Corbit) Warner


Typically made in pairs for use on sideboards, knife boxes (often called "knife cases" in early newspaper advertisements) stored silver flatware services in upright holes under key-locked hinged lids.  American-made federal-style knife boxes are very rare and must be documented by the presence of American secondary woods or other unambiguous evidence.  Tulip poplar in this pair suggests a Mid-Atlantic origin.  The knife boxes are unlike most English examples in that they have bowed fronts, rather than deeply serpentine shapes, and they lack any pictorial inlays or stringing, relying instead on beautifully figured mahogany grain.  The label of the Washington, D.C., art and antique furniture dealer suggests Mrs. Warner acquired them from him, but nothing is known about why she bought them.  Was she repatriating family furnishings?


Zimmerman, A Storied Past, 48, 138-139.