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A sleeper chest
This Queen Anne japanned maple high chest, Lot 54, goes on the block at Christie's on Jan. 18, with an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Yes, this 1735 Boston chest is in poor condition, to say the least. Its japanning has been flaking off at a rapid rate for a century or two. Clearly, it sat too close to the fireplace. But today's collectors place a premium on the scruffy. "Buyers with a shrewd eye and an appreciation for history will bid it up furiously," says Martha Willoughby, Christie's Americana specialist.