Ohio-Indiana Pie Safe, ca. 1860
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:34)
GUEST: It's the only pie safe I know that's made of walnut instead of pine. And I bought it at an auction. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it across the room.
GUEST: And I left a silent bid for it. And I've had it for 30 years.
APPRAISER: Pie safes in America are pretty much of a Germanic influence. The Pennsylvania Germans who came in and came down the valley of Virginia, the great Shenandoah or out into the West, brought this form with them. And it became a very important part of the history of foodways in America for its storage of food. They were used for more than just pies--for breadstuffs, for bakery goods. And they had punched tin ventilation. How do you use it?
GUEST: I use it to store dishes in.
APPRAISER: You do?
APPRAISER: There are several things about this one that are rather unique, as far as we're concerned. One is its verticality. It's taller than most of them that turn up in the upper portion of the old South. The other thing that's very interesting is, as you said, it's not only walnut, but all of the secondary wood is walnut-- these panels, the backboards, the shelves, the drawer linings. Normally, cabinetmakers, woodworkers would use local softer woods for the drawer linings. For this reason, I've talked to some of my colleagues and we think that this piece was not made in Virginia or North Carolina, where you may expect it to come from, but probably from west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio River. That is Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, where there's still a great abundance of walnut at that time. Another thing that's interesting about it is the construction around this punched tin work of these rather stylized baskets of flowers. The piece has been put together with mortise-and-tenon joints. Ron, if we may have you to come in and open the doors. The construction here is through--tenons all the way through with pins. That wonderful oxidation, the full mortise-and-tenon joint, is a 17th- and 18th-century form of construction. The other is that this piece shows true use, because down in the bottom, there is a mouse hole or rat hole, and it's been repaired there on the bottom shelf. Possibly it's been skinned or rubbed a bit hard on the outside. This surface has been a little bit doctored up at one point and a little repair to the paint. But the paintwork on the punched tin panel seems to be rather original. What do you think the date of it might be?
GUEST: Late 19th century.
APPRAISER: That's what we think. There's some of them that come from about 1830s, '40s, but the hardware, the lock and the hinges, seems to be more 1860s, '70s. Condition is very good. You bought this about 30 years ago. What did you pay for it at that time?
GUEST: $300, which was probably too much.
APPRAISER: (laughs) At that time.
APPRAISER The value probably today, this, in the auction market, would bring around $5,000 to $7,000.
APPRAISER: We appreciate you sharing with us your great pie safe from the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois region.
GUEST: I've enjoyed sharing it with you very much.
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