Appraisal Video: (4:01)
GUEST: We built a house, And my husband wanted some... a really spectacular piece for the dining room, and so the house was finished in '84, and we found this about four or five years later in San Francisco.
APPRAISER: Okay, and you bought it from an antique dealer?
GUEST: Yes, we did.
APPRAISER: Did they tell you anything about it?
GUEST: They said that it was American, and they gave us an article, and they said it was attributed to a cabinetmaker from New York named, um... Alexander Roux. That's what they said, but they said it was not signed.
APPRAISER: Correct. Do you mind if I ask how much you paid for it?
GUEST: We paid $18,000.
APPRAISER: $18,000, okay. This is an 1850- to 1860s-era sideboard made in New York, resembles the work of Alexander Roux, based on his exhibit at the 1853 New York Crystal Palace exhibition. There's a drawing that illustrates a very similar sideboard, which is what you're referring to. Alexander Roux was an immigrant craftsman, a guild-trained craftsman from France, arrived in New York, was able to produce high-quality furniture for an elite clientele, with the freedom to be able to create his own designs. So it's a unique period. It's called the American rococo revival of the naturalistic style. If we start at the top on this piece, you can see all the naturalistic motifs, beginning with the... first the precariously placed pomegranate at the very top down to the wonderful deer head or stag, followed by these wolves that come down in this C-scroll with these heads popping up. And that is a motif that's consistent with Roux's work. Then as we follow over to the right and the left, we've got these pineapple finials. And then when we come down to the second shelf, you can see the exquisite wood selection of this piece, very fancy walnut, which is our primary wood throughout. And the secondary wood in the interior is walnut as well, which is kind of unique and another thing that's consistent with Roux furniture. Also this shelf support here is, again, another Roux motif, with this dog-head support up at the top. Wonderful specimen marble top-- as you can see, is almost matched from the top of the marble to the bottom. And this looks like a crack, but it's not. It's the step-tiered marble that comes into the molding that's over the top of the skirt, which contains four drawers. This one here almost looks like it pulls out from the side but, as you can see, it's a straight-out drawer. And then at the base, we've got these four almost still-life panels of naturalistic motif. This one here's probably the most significant, in my opinion, with this marine still-life with a crab, a string of fish, a lobster and a serpent or a water snake. A wonderful piece. It represents what I consider to be the high point of American furniture. You have the highest-trained cabinetmakers working for a very wealthy clientele, with the ability to produce innovative, free designs, and this is an excellent example of that. There is a mate to it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
GUEST: There is a mate?
APPRAISER: Yes. That's probably surfaced after you had bought it. In terms of value, if I had this for sale, I would want at least $50,000 for it. I'm being a little bit cautious there. The finish has been stripped and it's missing some patina on it. When you've got this deep carving, you're going to get a patination almost, particularly in the deep crevices, which you can see we're missing in all these grooves here. It's dirty down there, but it's not the degree of color change-- darker to lighter-- and that's what we think of as patina. and on furniture like this, it's particularly important. And, again, we don't have a label on top of that also, but spectacular piece. I feel comfortable it'd be at least $50,000.
GUEST: That's fine. I'm happy with that. I love this.
APPRAISER: What a great piece of furniture, though.
GUEST: Yeah, I thought we were really lucky to get it.
APPRAISER: I think you were.