Appraisal Video: (3:27)
Pottery & Porcelain
David Lackey Antiques & Art
GUEST: Well, it's something that my mother gave me, and she acquired it in the '50s, and she gave it to me, I'd guess, sometime in the '60s, after I was married and had children and didn't really appreciate antiques at the time. I should have asked her more about it, and I didn't.
APPRAISER: So you don't really know that much about it.
GUEST: I don't know that much about it.
APPRAISER: Well, have you ever gotten it appraised, or have you ever tried to sell it?
GUEST: Well, I was getting ready to marry my second husband, and I had thought, "He's not really going to like it," so I put it in an antique shop in the town I was living in on consignment. And he and I had gone down to have some supper one evening, and I said, "Oh, this is a piece that belonged to my mother, that I've got here on consignment, because I didn't think you'd like it." And he said, "Oh, no... you've got to go get that back, because we need to keep that." So... and he loves it, and I love it, too, and I've grown to love it more.
APPRAISER: Yeah. So how much was it priced in the antique shop?
GUEST: Something between $300 and $500.
APPRAISER: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Well, I wish I had been there to shop that day, but unfortunately I wasn't. Let's look at the bottom. This was made by the Lenci Pottery Company, which is an Italian company. They also made dolls, and they're still in business today, actually.
GUEST: Oh, I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: Before World War II, in the '20s and '30s, they were known for making some really extravagant, huge figurines of all kinds. Here's their mark. They were in Turin, Italy-- "Lenci," and it's got part of the original label, which is a nice thing to have. One point on the bottom I'd like to make is there's a firing crack through the bottom here, and there's a little bit of glaze that has pooled into the crack. So you know that that's original to when it was made and something that didn't happen later. Fortunately that crack does not extend into the body. We wish that firing crack wasn't there, but since it's on the bottom, it doesn't affect the value that much.
GUEST: When do you think it was made?
APPRAISER: This was probably made in the 1920s or perhaps the early 1930s. We would classify this as a figurine-- not so much a sculpture, but a figurine.
GUEST: Right. And it is porcelain, isn't it?
APPRAISER: It's actually pottery. It has a really interesting design. This would have been very modern and avant-garde when it was made. It seems to be inspired a lot by German design from the period-- the Bauhaus, the Wiener Werkstätte-type design. But the Italians put their own twist on Art Deco and the very modern design of the time. What they've depicted here are a couple of Italian peasants. They're so stylized, their clothes, the painting on her dress, this almost prehistoric-looking tree that's growing in the back. And that's what collectors like about it, is because it's so unusual as far as style and design that even today, it has an interesting look.
GUEST: How many would they make of this same one?
APPRAISER: But they were expensive when they were new. This company is really known for their huge, extravagant female nudes.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Or elegant, exotic ladies. And those would be worth more than the peasants.
APPRAISER: But the peasants are still good, and we think that this one would probably bring between $3,000 and $5,000.
GUEST: Are you serious? My land.
APPRAISER: At a modernist auction.
GUEST: I assure you my husband will congratulate himself.
APPRAISER: Well, he can say, "I told you so," and you'll thank him, I think.
GUEST: Yeah, I think so.