Chester County, Pennsylvania Spice Cabinet, ca. 1770
Appraised Value: $50,000 (1997)
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (3:40)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
APPRAISER: I want to tell you I had a Red Flyer wagon when I was a child and I hauled around dogs and cats and toys and... but I don't think I ever hauled around a little spice cabinet. Can you tell me how you came to bring this to the Roadshow today in a nice little Red Flyer?
GUEST: Well, I watch the Roadshow all the time. I've seen pieces that weren't quite as exquisite as this that were worth a lot of money and she's been sitting on a cabinet holding my jewelry for years and years, so I just decided to bring it in and check it out.
APPRAISER: Let's take a closer look at it, okay?
APPRAISER: This piece is from Pennsylvania, and I think you said to me that your family is from Lancaster.
GUEST: No, Curwensville and Clearfield.
APPRAISER: All right. Well, this piece was probably made in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and it was probably made around 1760, maybe as late as 1780. And you mentioned that you put your jewelry in it for years.
APPRAISER: Was it very valuable jewelry?
GUEST: No, just costume. I emptied it out last week.
APPRAISER: (laughing) All right. Well, if we look inside... You can see that it has a large number of compartments that are perfectly serviceable for jewelry. You can see here it has some very nice walnut and oak in the back. Now, what's interesting about this is that in the 18th century, we don't know exactly what they put in these. They would put spices, they would put jewelry like you did, they might put money, they might put medicine. But today, they're almost uniformly referred to as spice cabinets. And as a spice cabinet from Chester County, it's an extraordinarily rare piece. When we look at this door here, you can see it has all this line inlay, and this is often referred to as vine-and-grape inlay that we see here. Originally, the piece had feet. And if I tilt it back here, we can see the holes where the feet were. See here? And here? Originally, it had little ball feet on it, okay? And at some point in time, they decided, for reasons that I don't know, to put a piece of plywood on the top. We can look across here and we can see a plywood top. Do you have any guess what you think it might be worth today?
GUEST: Not an idea. That's why I'm here.
APPRAISER: Well, let me say if you had some very expensive jewelry in this cabinet, it might be worth as much as the cabinet. Because this cabinet, on today's market, is worth at least $50,000.
APPRAISER: These don't come up that often, and $50,000... on a good day, it could go higher because it's an extraordinarily rare piece.
GUEST: I'm amaz... I... because I've never really ever taken care of it, you know.
APPRAISER: You did just fine. The worst thing that's happened to this is it's lost its feet, and in the scheme of things, that's not too bad. Well, it's a great object. It really is one of the finest things that I've seen in years.
GUEST: Thank you very much. I'll put it back in my little red wagon and go home.
APPRAISER: Take it home in your red wagon now.
GUEST: Okay, thank you.
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