Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    Duncan Phyfe Sewing Table, ca. 1805

    Appraised Value:

    $100,000 - $120,000

    Appraised on: August 3, 1996

    Appraised in: Southfield, Michigan

    Appraised by: Leigh Keno

    Category: Furniture

    Episode Info: Greatest Finds (#814)

    Originally Aired: May 3, 2004

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Table
    Material: Brass, Leather, Mahogany, Poplar
    Period / Style: Federal, 19th Century
    Value Range: $100,000 - $120,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (3:28)


    Appraised By:

    Leigh Keno
    Folk Art, Furniture

    Appraisal Transcript:
    APPRAISER 1: Can you tell us a little bit about how you first came to own this fine sewing table?

    GUEST: Well, I'm an antiquer from a long time ago and that was my love, always just scouring the antique shops. When I saw the hairy paw feet, I just lit up because I knew I had seen it somewhere in one of the antiques magazines.

    APPRAISER 1: It was actually made by Duncan Phyfe in New York, about 1805 or 1810. And it's probably one of his greatest masterpieces.

    GUEST: It is?

    APPRAISER 1: Duncan Phyfe came from Scotland in the latter part of the 1700s, right about 1798, and had a huge group of wealthy clients who he made furniture for-- some of the wealthiest merchants in New York at the time.

    APPRAISER 2: This is one of the finest pieces of Federal furniture that I've ever seen, so you really made my day and Leslie's day by bringing this. This top with canted corners-- this rectangular top-- opens up and it reveals this wonderful writing area, and this actually pulls up. This has an adjustable board with the original red baize and gold-tooled leather. So it's so incredible that that survived in this condition with just a few worn spots. If you think that that's been there since about 1805 or 1810, it's really incredible. And over on the side, you have this removable mahogany tray for pens with a pewter-covered inkwell. All the secondary woods here are mahogany. It's incredibly made with these very fine dovetails. And on the front of the piece you have a drawer fitted with these regency-style lion's-head brass pulls, probably made in London and imported here into New York. Cabinetmakers such as Honoré Lannuier and Duncan Phyfe used these brasses from England-- pressed-brass pulls like this-- and they were very fashionable. And this drawer, actually, if you pull this out, you can see the wonderful poplar-- typical New York wood-- on the underside, which is very green when it's unoxidized. The construction is so tight that even though this is from 1805 or 1810, there's no oxidation. It's really quite incredible. And here again you have mahogany secondary woods on the drawer sides. These flanking legs, cabriole legs with roundels here, with molding in the front and these hairy paw feet, and they're raised on their original brass casters. Casters had been around in America since about 1720. The finish on it is so wonderful and untouched, and I'm so glad you never cleaned it.

    GUEST: Some things you know not to clean.

    APPRAISER 1: Do you realize what the value of this is?

    GUEST: It's big money.

    APPRAISER 2: Do you think it's in the five figures?

    GUEST: Oh, yeah, without any trouble.

    APPRAISER 1: This sewing table is worth in the area of $100,000, and it could bring even higher. On a good day, over $120,000.

    GUEST: All these wonderful things you've said, I felt them when I saw it in the antique shop. I knew it was one of these wonderful things.

    APPRAISER 1: You mentioned earlier that antiques have helped change your life and possibly save you from an illness you had.

    GUEST: Well, I had cancer 23 years ago, and if I hadn't had the hobby of antiquing, I think I would be gone now, but antiques have kept me-- the running and looking for them, the finding them, researching, it just carries you all the time. It lifts you. You have no time to get sick or die.

    APPRAISER 2: You lifted us, and thanks for bringing this today.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube