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Antique French commode highly suitable investment

Louis XVI style commode with painted and gilt accents. (photo/googleimage)
Louis XVI style commode with painted and gilt accents. (photo/googleimage)

The term commode comes from the French for "convenient" or "suitable." Commodes first appeared in that country about 1700 as low cabinets or chests, made by cabinet-makers. They were often decorated with gilt or bronze and were wider than they were tall. The piece was usually set on feet, low or high, and typically had a marble top.

By the mid-eighteenth century, the term "commode" had become a London cabinet-making term for any chest of drawers with a bowed front which was thought to be (in the eye of the designer) in the "French" style.

Please don't confuse this commode with the Victorian term "night commode' or anything similar, which refers to a cabinet that surrounds a chamber pot. The pieces couldn't be more different!

I highly recommend reading Illustrated History of Furniture, From the Earliest to the Present Time, by Frederick Litchfield (1850-1930). This is an marvelous guide to fine furniture and should be on the shelf of any collector.  The principles therein will help you define your taste and avoid costly errors when chosing expensive pieces.  In the meantime, view the slideshow, noting the differences and similarities in the antique French commodes shown.  Notice what style appeals to you and seek that out locally.

In Baton Rouge, the first two places to look for a high-quality French commode are Inessa Stewart Antiques and Fireside Antiques. These dealers usually have in several items that are investment-worthy. If you don't see what you want, each store has knowledgeable personnel ready to help you locate the piece you find most suitable.

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