Appraisal Video: (3:21)
Pottery & Porcelain
Rago Arts & Auction Center
GUEST: It's my sister's chair. She purchased it from some friends of mine, um, in the late '70s. After that, she was looking at an "Antique Trader," noticed another chair in there called "the lost treasure" and realized maybe she had a treasure of her own.
APPRAISER: You and your sister both know this is a Gustav Stickley chair. We'll look at the mark in just a second. Gustav Stickley's known for very scaled-down and simple, heavy furniture. Well, this is not so scaled-down because it's got this inlay decoration across the back, and it's also rather light compared to a lot of his pieces. The lines and the pieces of wood are a lot thinner. Right from the start, that will tell you this is a special piece. Harvey Ellis was an English designer who worked for Gustav Stickley for not much more than a year. He was a alcoholic, and he died in 1904. But he brought this rather decorative, European Arts and Crafts style, and it modified Gustav Stickley's more severe look. And so these inlays, which are on the back of these back slats have inlays of pewter, copper, rare woods. Now, your sister mentioned there was some repair to the inlay? Could you point that out for us?
GUEST: I believe she said this one was a repair and possibly a crushed-up penny that was put in there. It was just kind of flattened out and banged into place.
APPRAISER: That's not unusual. What happens over the years is that the wood keeps shifting as water leaves and reenters the wood, and it kind of changes shape and size, and the inlay will pop out. Also the glue that holds the inlay in place dries out over the years, and it'll pop out for that reason. So it's not the end of the world when that occurs. We know it's an early chair because Harvey Ellis died in 1904. There's other ways we know it's an early piece. You look inside the chair, you see these holes?
APPRAISER: This had a cane seat foundation that a cushion would rest on. And later pieces of Stickley would have drop-in seats or spring seats. Furthermore, this piece has an earlier mark on it, which we'll look here. It's a joiner's comp. It's inside of a box, so it's a decal, and these early pieces were often marked under the arms. But when you see a box around the mark, you know it's an earlier piece of furniture. Another indication that it's early is this finish, which is really beautiful, and it makes a huge difference in the look, the quality and the value of the chair. When you see this kind of wear... See the color difference between the back of the arm and the bottom of the arm?
APPRAISER: That's because of normal wear, people putting their elbows and arms and wearing down the color, that's not a bad thing. It shows this chair has not been cleaned. If anybody refinished this chair, they would have evened out the color on the arms. But if we turn the chair around... the color on the back is this rich, chocolatey brown, fumed finish. It's really what you want to see on a Harvey Ellis chair and makes a vast difference in price. Uh, condition overall, it's a little loose, a little inlay replacement, nicks and dings here and there, but otherwise, in fine condition. Uh, retail, today's market for this chair $40,000 to $50,000.
GUEST: Oh, my word... that's awesome.
APPRAISER: Several things would make it worth less. If it was refinished, $10,000 to $15,000. Lighter finish, $25,000 to $35,000. With this color-- this is stone-cold retail-- but retail's $40,000 to $50,000.
GUEST: Oh, my word, that's awesome.