18th-Century Chinese Lacquer Box
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $2,500
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:10)
GUEST: It belonged to my mother-in-law and I found it in the guest bathroom under the sink.
APPRAISER: Just open?
GUEST: In the cupboard.
APPRAISER: Just there? Not covered, not...?
GUEST (chuckling): No. And I admired it and I was horrified to see this pretty thing in a place like that, so I asked her if I couldn't take it home and she said yes.
APPRAISER: Well, this is a Chinese cinnabar lacquer box. It's actually in three colors, and it's all carved. It's made in many layers of lacquer, very laborious work. This is an unusual box because it dates to the 18th century. This mark underneath is the Emperor Qianlong's mark.
APPRAISER: He was the emperor from 1736 to 1795. If you look inside, you'll see it's lacquered also because if anything was put in the interior, they didn't want it causing damage. The cover is carved with figures and birds and Chinese mythical scenes. Something else interesting is the source of this box. It came from Japan, actually, sold by a dealer in Kyoto, Japan, named Yamanaka. And we have the original invoice, which was signed by the American vice-consul at the time, in 1925. The Yamanaka Company in Japan still exists. It has a wonderful old building in the Sanjo-Dori district in Kyoto. And the fact that they had this is not surprising, because they were dealers in great Chinese objects. And I wonder if you have any idea what it cost in 1925. Well, I've seen the invoice. It's 900 yen, which I think is about three dollars.
GUEST (laughing): Oh! I've come all this way for three dollars.
APPRAISER: Today it's worth in the neighborhood of $2,000 to $2,500.
GUEST: That's wonderful.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.