Envelope Seal, ca.1860
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $4,000 (1997)
$3,500 - $7,500 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:40)
Asian Arts, Pottery & Porcelain
Leonard Sipiora Fine Art & Antiques
APPRAISER: Jim, you've brought an intriguing piece this morning. Tell me what you know about the piece and its origins.
GUEST: Well, I'm going to have to tell you my wife purchased this at an estate sale. The estate was that of a retired lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts. He was originally from Russia and was supposedly in the clergy but left that. Became a sailor. Jumped ship in New Orleans, made his way to Boston, became a lawyer-- evidently a very successful one. We were told he dealt largely with the immigrant... other immigrants from that part of the country-- Russia and the Baltics.
APPRAISER: I see.
GUEST: And he then retired and his estate went up for sale.
APPRAISER: Here in Phoenix?
GUEST: Here in Phoenix.
APPRAISER: So he emigrated to the United States.
GUEST: That's correct.
APPRAISER: Practiced in Boston as an attorney with the immigrant population and moved in retirement to Phoenix. This is a seal for letters. It was never engraved, but this surface here was designed for an engraved monogram or coat of arms or a family crest. And you would use it with sealing wax on an envelope. It's beautifully cut and then has this wonderful frosted acanthus leaf motif on the head, and this front that has been engraved like a strawberry. The piece is remarkable for its condition. Equally remarkable is the velvet-lined leather-covered case. Even though it's not in the best of condition, it's still important to this piece. Do you have any idea as to its value? What did you pay for it? Or what did your wife pay for it?
GUEST: Well, if my wife told me the truth...
APPRAISER: Yes? (chuckles)
GUEST: I think it was less than $100.
APPRAISER: Less than $100.
GUEST: Well... I don't know the exact amount.
APPRAISER: I would appraise this between $2,000 and $4,000 in value.
APPRAISER: It's an extraordinary treasure and it would be welcome in any seal collection.
GUEST: Well, there is a downside to it because she'll probably want to go to every estate sale west of the Rockies from now on. (laughs)
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