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    Early 1900s New Hampshire Prison Art

    Appraised Value:

    $3,500 - $4,500

    Appraised on: June 24, 2006

    Appraised in: Salt Lake City, Utah

    Appraised by: Marybeth Keene

    Category: Folk Art

    Episode Info: Unique Antiques (#1120)
    Salt Lake City, Hour 2 (#1114)

    Originally Aired: April 23, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Carving
    Material: Wood
    Period / Style: 20th Century
    Value Range: $3,500 - $4,500

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    Appraisal Video: (1:47)


    Appraised By:

    Marybeth Keene
    Decorative Arts, Folk Art

    Appraisal Transcript:

    GUEST: The oral history is that this was created by a convict in New Hampshire while he was serving time in the state penitentiary in the 1920s. And I got it from my grandmother's estate when she passed away, when I was 14 years old. And I assume she purchased it maybe in the 1930s, somewhere in New England.

    APPRAISER: Well, there's a number of these known, and this is the kind of work that you see in prison art. And there is kind of a little group in this New Hampshire penitentiary that did produce these. And there's probably 20 of them known, and some of them are bigger, some are smaller, some more elaborate. These are monkeys...

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: ...but sometimes they were frogs. And this is just what folk art is all about. Every little face is carved from... You know what it's carved from.

    GUEST: They're peach pits, is what I was told. Which is amazing.

    APPRAISER: They're peach pits.

    GUEST: Isn't that...?

    APPRAISER: They are. They're carved from peach pits, and this is a game room--

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: --of some sort in the early 20th century. There's somebody playing checkers, there's the pool table; and these guys-- not only are they playing cards, but they are also on a nice inlaid table, and then these two have little, teeny-tiny dice that they're playing, and then each place has a spittoon. And it's just a wonderful, wonderful piece of folk art.

    GUEST: Can you tell me anything about this group of people in the penitentiary that did stuff?

    APPRAISER: They don't know whether it's one person, or a number of people who did these. And they all seem to be associated with the New Hampshire Penitentiary.

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: In our shop, we'd probably sell it somewhere between $3,500, and $4,500.

    GUEST: Okay. Not that I want to sell it.

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