Philadelphia Spice Cabinet, ca. 1740
Appraised Value: $40,000 - $60,000 (1997)
$30,000 - $50,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:57)
APPRAISER: Mary Ann, you've brought in today a piece of furniture that was an essential part of the mid-18th-century well-to-do home. Today we go out to the store to buy spices when we cook. I actually don't cook, but when people that know how to cook want to have spices, they go to the store. In 18th-century Philadelphia, where this was made, this spice chest-- probably between about 1725 and 1760 in the William and Mary style-- kind of Queen Anne and William and Mary style-- this would have been a very special object and it would have been a place to lock your cherished spices. Spices would have probably come in from exotic places through the port of Philadelphia. You have this nice molded top and these doors with an arched panel. And that's a real Queen Anne characteristic. It was actually made with a compass. You see this little dot, Mary Ann? You could see the dot. They used a compass to mark out that arch, and then these panels are actually carved out and inset. And the thing I love about the piece is that it has this old finish. We don't know how this stain got on there, do we?
APPRAISER: Because everything else is so untouched, I really think it wouldn't be bad to do something with this water stain. The water has taken away, really, dissolved the finish. I would have a conservator--a very conservative conservator, someone who's not going to touch any of this-- very carefully perhaps use some colored wax, a little bit of dark wax. Just darken it a little bit so that visually, it doesn't jump out at you.
APPRAISER: Down at the bottom, you have a nice cove molding and then its original William and Mary ball feet. Incredibly rare for ball feet like this to survive since 1740 or so.
GUEST: Yeah. Right, because they'd be delicate.
APPRAISER: If you take off this door-- we know this door is loose. I'm going to put this one down, and it's actually coming apart, but this just needs a little bit of glue. You would have unlocked it, and these drawers would have been filled-- these walnut-faced drawers-- with all kinds of spices. Do you keep spices in it now?
GUEST: No, no.
APPRAISER: So it hasn't had spices in a long time. Where have you kept this and how did you come upon it?
GUEST: My father collected antique American furniture and my parents had it. My mother and I, we took it over to Europe.
GUEST: And then when my mother passed away, I brought it back from Europe.
APPRAISER: So it's a well-traveled spice chest.
APPRAISER: In the marketplace today, a chest such as this, because it has a verticality, it has nice panels on the front. Even though this door is loose--we'll put it back so you can appreciate it-- ready for the drum roll?
APPRAISER: About $40,000 to $60,000.
GUEST: Oh, my God. Oh, yeah, that's quite nice.
APPRAISER: So you're happy?
GUEST: I'm very happy.
APPRAISER: Will you take me to dinner?
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