Cast Iron Bird Gate Weight
Appraised Value: $600 - $800
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:21)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Musical Instruments
Ken Farmer Auctions, LLC
GUEST: Well, my dad and my Uncle Henry were in the scrap iron business back in the early '50s, and they acquired it from some street hobos. (laughs)
APPRAISER: Street hobos.
GUEST: Street hobos from Baltimore who thought this might earn them a little pocket change. And so my dad and uncle eagerly took it off their hands, and now I have it. (chuckles)
APPRAISER: So the street hobos brought it in to your dad or your uncle and sold it for scrap.
GUEST: Yep, yep, that's right.
APPRAISER: And were you telling me early they wouldn't tell your dad where they got it from?
GUEST: They just said they found it, which is a little odd.
APPRAISER: Well, first thing I want to tell you is what it is.
GUEST: That would be great.
APPRAISER: Because you've had trouble finding that out.
GUEST: We've been looking for many years.
APPRAISER: Have you ever been to Colonial Williamsburg?
GUEST: I most certainly have.
APPRAISER: Have you ever walked through the gates at Colonial Williamsburg and noticed the weights hanging off of them by ropes or pulleys?
GUEST: Oh, okay, yeah.
APPRAISER: That's exactly what this is. It's a gate weight. Most of the ones you see are shaped like cannonballs, and they were commonly used in England in the 18th century and America up through the mid-19th century. And the thing that's neat about this is it becomes more than just a piece of cast iron. It's a nice form. It's a bird. I think the reason that the beak is so pointed is so they could stick it in the post to hold the gate open if they had something in their arms they were carrying it back and forth.
GUEST: That's a good idea.
APPRAISER: I've never seen one made exactly like... well, see how much it's worn off on the end? I think that paint loss is from sticking it in the wood, and it's also flat on the end. Probably when it was first made, it was sharp. The other thing that's nice about it is it has it's original multicolor paint decoration. Every town had a foundry where they made things like this: fireplace tools, kitchen items, you name it. And it was probably cast locally there in Baltimore. Well, obviously, I guess if you didn't know what it was you certainly didn't know how much it was worth.
GUEST: No... no.
APPRAISER: Well, what you have is a very functional but also very decorative item. And on today's market, in the condition that it's in, I'd say conservatively, it's auction estimate would be $600 to $800.
GUEST: Oh, great. (laughs) Lunch is on me. (laughing)
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