Appraisal Video: (4:22)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: We've had mixed responses from appraisers. Some will tell us that it was refinished, some will say it was not.
APPRAISER: When do you think it was made or came into the family?
GUEST: Well, from the appraisers saying, around the 1750s.
APPRAISER: Well, people have been fairly correct in giving you a good time frame. It probably was made around 1750, 1760, okay? It was definitely made in New England; most probably made in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, so very eastern coastal New England. It is in very, very good condition. Now, it has been refinished and from a surface standpoint they didn't do a great job. But the other things that we look for that make it interesting in terms of its originality are there. The brasses are original. We have one or two replaced brasses in it. What really interested me about this piece, though, was something that I actually saw when I looked at it from the back. When you look at the back of this, it's got all the nice signs of age, okay. But more importantly, how it was made. When you look here... See all these dovetails here?
APPRAISER: Now look. Here we have the drawer, same dovetailing. Now, the legs don't continue up here as you'd expect. And if I turn it this way, you can see the grain of the leg coming up here doesn't continue here.
APPRAISER: The fact is that these legs are detachable. In Rhode Island, specifically in Newport, they has a tradition of making the lower case so that you could take the legs off, and we think this was done to facilitate shipping. Now, this piece I don't think was made in Newport because stylistically, from the style of the shell, the way the cornice and the scrolled pediment are done is much more typical of Massachusetts work, okay? But this kind of construction in the lower case is absolutely typical of Rhode Island. So here we have somebody whose cabinetmaking training is Rhode Island, but stylistically it's Massachusetts. Now, normally when we look at these we always assume that the finials are replaced, okay? And two out of three of the finials are replaced. Which one do you think is the original 18th century finial and which one is the replacement?
GUEST: This one is the 18th century.
APPRAISER: Well, you're absolutely right.
GUEST: Oh, good!
APPRAISER: Now you hold this one and I'm going to show you why. Just pull that at each end for a second.
GUEST: Oh, it's all one piece, and that's...
APPRAISER: It's one piece. This, is in three pieces. In this case, you had a lathe and it was hand-cranked. That takes a lot of work. 20th century, all you did was flip a switch and the motor went on. So you're going to make it in three pieces-- three separate pieces-- which are easier to manufacture and then assemble.
APPRAISER: And so we know this one is the rare and original 18th-century one and these two are the later copies. So, we know its been refinished and that's obviously not the best thing in the world. Do you have any sense what you should do in caring for it from now on? Have you had any advice about that or what you think you should do to take care of it?
GUEST: Well, we were advised to linseed oil it because of the dryness of the Reno area, which we did once.
APPRAISER: If you want to ruin the value of the piece, use linseed oil.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: This is one of the all-time no-no's. Never, ever, ever... You should be boiled in the oil if you oil it. Never ever use linseed oil. It's a non-drying oil, it's a disaster, okay? Beeswax is the most basic, once a year, you're fine. Having said that, given the condition that it's in and the age and the uniqueness of the construction, all the rest, if I were appraising this, just for insurance, I would appraise it for at least $80,000.
APPRAISER: A wonderful piece.
APPRAISER: I'm really glad you brought it in for us today.