Miniature Redware Chest, ca. 1840
Appraised Value: $2,500 - $3,500
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:39)
Pottery & Porcelain
Senior Vice President & International Specialist Head, European Ceramics and Glass
GUEST: We went to an antique shop, and of course, something leaps off the shelf at you and you know you have to have it. Well, that was this. To me, it looks like New England, it looks like a Chippendale style, and that's what attracted me.
APPRAISER: Well, it's one of the most interesting pieces that I've seen come in since I've been doing the ROADSHOW.
GUEST: Oh, thank you.
APPRAISER: This is a working chest made out of a very high fired red clay. I think it's more likely English than American.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: I think it probably dates to about 1840. Staffordshire, northern Staffordshire and even into Scotland are areas where traditionally there have been a great deal of... of pottery made, and not only decorative pottery but useful pottery and useful wares. That tortoiseshell lead glaze is very typical of Staffordshire. It's extraordinary to me that it works, that the drawers really do pull out. If you've seen any of the Bennington small chests, their drawers don't actually work. They tend to be faux fronts, and very often there's a slit for them to be a piggy bank. But this really is a working chest. I'm going to take one of the drawers out-- an exquisitely made drawer, but look just here along the edge. You can see the outline of a slab and then a second slab to make the wall. It's made, I think, out of the same kind of material that Victorian red bricks were made out of. And what I think this piece is is a link between the useful, utilitarian wares-- the brick business, the tile business-- and fine art pottery, where the reason for it being made is purely decorative and not useful at all, other than the fact that you do have drawers that fit in perfectly. As a one-off piece, rather than commercial production of that period, I would have thought that a small chest like this, in this kind of condition-- because barring one corner that's been re-stuck, it's virtually in perfect condition-- I would have thought it should be worth between $2,500 and $3,500 at auction.
GUEST: Huh! Goodness.
APPRAISER: So, is that a surprise?
GUEST: Of course, I paid $125.
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