Appraisal Video: (3:40)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: My mother, she loved antiques, so about in 1976 or '77, we were at an auction, she saw this advertising, we went up and bought it at auction in Washburn, North Dakota.
APPRAISER: Now, what did it look like when you found it?
GUEST: Well, it was pretty rough. It was in pieces, although I don't think it was really broken up. Very dark, and it didn't look like much, but all the pieces were there, and it looked like it could be brought back, so we bought it. It was a beautiful piece, we thought.
APPRAISER: So they brought it back to Bismarck and sent it to a restorer?
GUEST: Yeah, a local professional restorer. My mother used him for other furniture pieces, and he did a lovely job, we thought. He did-- very painstakingly-- put it back together.
APPRAISER: What really is attractive to me about it is the wood use. This piece is made of rosewood. It's about 1840 to 1860. Now, rosewood comes out of South America and it's the king of woods. It's very, very hard to find now. It's pretty much an endangered species.
APPRAISER: Rosewood's very, very difficult to work because it's so hard. It's very brittle. So when I look at things like these quality turnings, especially here, I know that a master turner was working on it, because if you don't know what you're doing, you end up with a lot of chips and dust on the floor and nothing else.
APPRAISER: Now, let's talk about the refinishing. I'll bet it was absolutely dark purple, almost black.
GUEST: It was very, yeah... almost black.
GUEST: It was very dark.
APPRAISER: That was probably the original finish.
APPRAISER: Rosewood really is an oily wood, so the finishes can darken very fast on it. So, a lot of times, people are tempted to start cleaning that off and get to see the wood underneath, and that's what they did here. But unfortunately, one thing they did was, they tended to make it a little too even, so we've lost some of the contrast that people really treasure in rosewood. And we've got something a little more faded and a little more on that slightly bland side. Now, when you look at it, you want to know that everything on it started out life with it, and sometimes, when you look from the front, everything looks fine. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to turn it around and I'm going to take a look at the back. We can look here, and we got a nice piece of plywood. That probably means that the backboard had broken or cracked, and maybe even there was a new mirror. That doesn't mean anything, doesn't really worry us too much. But if I look up here, we've got this very crude joint line. Even though this wood is walnut and this wood is walnut-- which is what they like to use as a base wood to put the rosewood on-- in the front it's walnut as well.
APPRAISER: This entire crest was put on at a later time.
GUEST: Oh, oh.
APPRAISER: It's completely new.
APPRAISER: What I suspect happened was that sometime, probably in the 1940s, they took... this piece, and it had probably been broken, and "Gone With the Wind" had come out, people were in love with Victorian furniture again, and they said, "We've got to save it," and so they re-created what we see up front.
APPRAISER: So let's turn around and look at it and see what we see again. We've got a piece that, essentially, from the neck down is in pretty good shape. A little rough on the refinish, but from the neck up, we're in trouble.
GUEST: That crest is walnut, then?
APPRAISER: Well, there's walnut on the flat parts.
APPRAISER: And then they put rosewood over it. I know you just want to take it home, right?
GUEST: Yes, that's right.
APPRAISER: You're not looking to sell it.
GUEST: It's a family piece.
APPRAISER: So, for insurance purposes, I would insure this for about $7,000 or $8,000.
GUEST: Okay. We love it, so we'll take care of it. It goes in our house real well, so it's a very nice piece.