Convertible Bath Tub, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $3,500
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:35)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
APPRAISER: You and I know what this is, but our audience doesn't know. This is a case holding something inside. Looking stylistically at this, I'm seeing these incised flower heads here and the reeded pilasters. And this is in the East Lake style. Now, that tells us it's made about 1880-- right in there-- this case.
APPRAISER: Probably made of chestnut during the Victorian period. Now, the suspense is building up. Should we let them know?
APPRAISER: Should we do it? I'm going to grab the handle...
GUEST: You bet.
APPRAISER: We'll pull this down. If you can hold that side.
GUEST: Yep, we got it.
APPRAISER: There we go. Look at that.
GUEST: It's awesome.
APPRAISER: In the 19th century, we had Murphy's beds invented by a man named Murphy. They were convertible beds to save space. So in the late 19th century, someone invented that version in a bathtub with heated water. Now, in all my years on the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, I'd never, ever seen one of these.
GUEST: I had the local heritage center here check on it and they couldn't find anything either.
APPRAISER: Where did you find this bathtub?
GUEST: I bought this in Valley City, North Dakota.
GUEST: Uh, about two years ago.
APPRAISER: What made you go for it?
GUEST: I think it was the people that were stopping and looking at it, and I watched them for about an hour and I was contemplating about buying it and I thought: everybody likes this thing. "Where'd you get this?" they kept asking. And I made her an offer and I got it.
APPRAISER: Good for you. The history of hygiene in the world and bathing and using soap is kind of a slippery one. Now, you can have thousands of people in one town and there'd be one bathtub. So this is pretty amazing that this one survived. It would have been made for probably a wealthy family.
GUEST: It possibly came out of the Barnes estate in Valley City, because Barnes County's named after them, and she was close to a hundred years old or maybe over. And they had a lot of things.
APPRAISER: What you've got here is this canister with its original paint. It says "Improved Bath Heater." Here's your kerosene canister. The gravity fed down the tube, right?
APPRAISER: And then underneath, here is this burner, which is adjustable. And then heat up the water. Take a long time to do that and then, of course, the hose here that would go into the tub. Now, you also brought the stopper.
GUEST: Yes. That's the original stopper.
APPRAISER: That's great you have that. Now, if I was insuring this, because of the rarity, I'd insure this for around $3,500. Now, what did you pay for it?
APPRAISER: $2,500? Good for you. Good job.
GUEST: Thank you.
APPRAISER: Now, I'd like to try it out. You mind if I take a...?
GUEST: No, you can certainly...
APPRAISER: Let me just see.
GUEST: If you want to check it out, you certainly can.
APPRAISER: Let me just see how... Actually, it's pretty comfortable.
GUEST: That's not bad.
APPRAISER: Very nice. Thank you.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.