From the Sack Volumes
The White House American Room
The recent gift of an American room to the White House represents a milestone in the recognition of American antiques. We salute the NSID for its foresight in carrying through this project and are proud to have served on the committee.
The Diplomatic Reception Room chosen could hardly be more appropriate. Now representatives of other nations will not only enter a masterpiece American eighteenth century architecture but will gather to meet the President among inspiring examples of American artisanship. What is more, there is every likelihood that other sections of the White House will be similarly equipped in the future and gifts for this purpose will be welcomed.
The emphasis on Hepplewhite and Sheraton furniture, since this is the period of the Whie House4, will no doubt spark new enthusiasm for these periods. Collectors usually follow the pendulum of current interest led by the concentration of museum, restorations and leading collectors. For a decade or more the emphasis has been on pre-Revolutionary furniture. The recent publication of one book on Seymour furniture has created tremendous new interest in this craftsman. The White House project and the contemplated second volume on post-Revolutionary American furniture by Winterthur will, no doubt, swing the pendulum toward these periods.
We wish to point out that we never concentrate on one period because it is most popular at the moment. We believe that the vitality and creativeness of our artist-craftsmen is present in all periods and that the value of an American antique from the Pilgrim through the Classical periods is in direct ratio to its creative achievement as an example of American decorative arts. Since our selection is based on this principle we always have a proportionate representation of various periods. Thos who have bought fine examples of Hepplewhite and Sheraton in the past few decades will reap unexpected dividends in the values of their investments since during this period a piece of Hepplewhite or Sheraton furniture has brought less than a Queen Anne piece of equal merit. But we have not forgotten that 30 years ago the reverse was true and that in the Girl Scout Loan Exhibit in 1929 the only separate and the largest section was on the creations of Duncan Phyfe at his best.
We believe that the wisest approach to collecting is in consideration of the merit of the article not bound by transitory trends. How many people have bought second rate pieces of American Queen Anne or Chippendale because they could not afford the premium examples when they could have obtained outstanding examples of Hepplewhite or Sheraton. We believe this is a mistake. The finest quality of any period is the best investment for ever increasing enjoyment and value as Americans become increasingly aware of the richness of their artistic heritage.