German Blanket Chest, ca. 1590
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $4,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:30)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Paintings & Drawings, Silver
GUEST: This was sent over by my aunt and uncle as they were fleeing Nazi Germany in 1937. They had it all packed up. The Gestapo came over to inspect what they were sending out of the country, and discovered some gold pieces in a small compartment in there that my aunt and uncle were apparently unaware of. And as a result, they were detained, almost arrested, but they finally convinced the Nazis that they had no idea that the money was there. Apparently, it had been hidden there by my uncle's parents during the early inflationary period, and nobody was aware that it was still in there. The Nazis released them.
APPRAISER: You've brought a wonderful German blanket chest, probably made in the 16th century. It's 1580 to maybe 1600. You were showing me that you thought that this might be the compartment here.
GUEST: That's the only compartment I've been able to find, and I have to believe that that's where the money was hidden.
APPRAISER: This is called a till. On a European piece of furniture or on American blanket chests, this hinged till is where pieces were put for storage. But what's interesting about your story is, is that they said that they had no idea that there was any gold in the piece. It seems rather obvious that if something was there, they would have known about it.
GUEST: Knowing my aunt and uncle, they were not the smuggling type.
APPRAISER: Right. And I have to believe that they really were not aware that it was in there. This is an obvious compartment here, but this blanket chest actually does have a secret compartment.
GUEST: It does?
APPRAISER: It does. And if you hold the lid here-- I've got it. I will show you that this panel of the chest actually... raises up. And if you look down below here, there is a secret compartment underneath the till. And that is probably where the gold was found.
GUEST: I'm sure you're right.
APPRAISER: Did you know that that was there?
GUEST: I had no idea.
APPRAISER: It's stunning, isn't it?
GUEST: I'm amazed. It really is. (laughing)
APPRAISER: So they were probably flabbergasted when that panel was raised up and there was this secret compartment.
GUEST: That's incredible.
APPRAISER: The value of this chest, because of its early age, is probably in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. It's in wonderful condition. Has great patina. It's wonderfully carved. These were made in great numbers in Germany, and yet the story behind your piece is really what makes this such an interesting piece. Thank you for coming in.
GUEST: Thank you.
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