Appraisal Video: (4:10)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: The table was a very admired piece of a very close friend of our family, and before she died, she had given it to us. What she told us was a little bit about her family being... coming from Baltimore and Virginia area. Other than that I'm not...
APPRAISER: Do you have any sense of value?
GUEST: We had it appraised last year, and we were told it was about $10,000.
APPRAISER: Did they say anything about where it was made or anything that meant anything?
GUEST: No, nothing else.
APPRAISER: Okay. This piece doesn't come from Maryland. The style of this piece is very, very typical of what we see coming out of Massachusetts, Boston, the North Shore. It's a Federal table in terms of the styling. It has these wonderful reeded legs, this veneer work, this full-serpentine front and the half-serpentine sides, all absolutely typical of the Boston school of cabinetmaking. But to really figure out what it is, we're going to need to turn it over and look at it from the inside out.
APPRAISER: Any time you really want to look at a piece of furniture, you have to turn it upside down, you have to pull the drawers out, because as much as something looks great from the front, what it looks like when you get inside the guts is really what tells you what you're looking for. The first thing that hits me when I turn this upside down is this joint here. It's very crudely made, and you can see, instead of a wooden pin, which is what I'd hope to have, we have this metal screw. Sometimes the wooden pin falls out and they put a metal screw in, but you can see how... crudely this is made. Cabinetmakers in the 18th and 19th century were highly trained. They spent seven years as an apprentice before they ever got to make something that was made for money. So when you see something this crude, it's very problematic. Now, if I open this hinge to look back here, we have what I'd expect to see: very nice dovetails, nicely cut. When I go in here and I look at the wood they're using, it's a yellow pine. Now, yellow pine grew as far north as Rhode Island and as far south as Florida. If you lived in a city, you wanted a nice, easy wood to work in. White pine, which grew in abundance in New England, was the wood of choice. So when I see yellow pine, which I think of as a Southern material, it's a little odd. Another thing that I look at, and it's purely aesthetic, is the quality of the workmanship. So when I look at this, and I look at the way this is handled, all this, is it typical of what I see in that Boston/North Shore school? It has all the elements that I'd expect, but not in quite the configuration I'm hoping for. The tough thing, and I really hate to give you bad news on this one is, this is a complete fake. It was made to deceive. They used old wood, but they didn't have an old table to start. These elements, they're nicely done, but they're not done in quite the way they were in the 18th and early 19th century. Let's turn it back and set it up, see if there's anything that gives us a hint as well. It's a two-board top. They had no problem in getting big mahogany boards in the 19th Century. They could get 36-inch-wide, no problem, and if I lifted the top up, we've got another two boards underneath it-- that's another sign. You know, aesthetically this is a great table; everything about it's lovely. It has everything but age. In today's market, as a nice style table, in the style of the Boston Federal period, it's probably worth in the range of about $1,000 to $1,200.
APPRAISER: But it should never, ever be represented as an old table.
GUEST: Okay. Thank you.