Victorian Bureau-Washstand, ca. 1890
Appraised Value: $2,500
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (4:22)
GUEST: We found this at an antique store back in 1998. We looked at it and it was a very appealing dresser until they showed us what it all contained and what it all did. And we liked it. We went home and then, um, about a week later, I came home from work and my wife had purchased it for my birthday and it was up in my room. The history that we know about it, Wendell, was it was made in Michigan and we think by the Princess Dresser Case Company. And subsequent to that, it went out to Oklahoma on a Conestoga wagon and stayed there for years. And then eventually worked its way back to Caledonia, Wisconsin where this dealer found it and brought it in and we found it and purchased it.
APPRAISER: It's a rather unique piece. Tell us more about how it operates.
GUEST: Well, if you'd look at it initially, it looks like a normal dresser.
GUEST: However, if I may turn it...
APPRAISER: You may, indeed.
GUEST: And then the whole top comes out. And behind it, we have a little sink with a towel rack and a toiletry shelves.
GUEST: And a little gravity flow into this marble sink.
APPRAISER: So it becomes a washstand.
GUEST: It's a washstand. And then this mirror can be reversed so the mirror is facing you as you're shaving or washing or what have you.
APPRAISER: We call this a sort of metaphoric kind of piece of furniture. That is, it's something that it, it looks like one thing--that is a dresser—but it's another thing in operation. But I've never seen one like this with a marble sink and an enamel basin there. And it's gravity flow, so the reservoir is here.
GUEST: Yes, sir.
APPRAISER: One uses it in this way and you close it up... and it comes back into position. It's interesting here that it has a bumper so that the corners of the...
GUEST: It stops.
APPRAISER: in the turn will stop it and not damage the corners. And if you could bring it back, we'll look at the reservoir.
GUEST: Opens this way.
APPRAISER: And with the gravity feed... water comes down into the sink and then down into the waste...
GUEST: Into here where the reservoir, as they call it-- the slop bucket is.
APPRAISER: Okay. There are patent dates on the back. And the last one I noticed is 1885.
GUEST: Yes, sir.
APPRAISER: So you think it dates from about 1885 to 1895.
APPRAISER: The interesting thing about it is too, it's in the Eastlake manner. That is Charles Eastlake the great aesthetic writer who wrote a book called “Hints on Household Taste”-- was responsible for this kind of low relief carving. It was a restrained style at the end of the florid High Victorian period. What is interesting about this period in furniture is that it's that period at the end of the Victorian and the beginning of art nouveau and art deco and the like. At the end of the 19th century when cleanliness was related to godliness. The style of... use of washstand disappeared quite soon after indoor plumbing. And for that reason, it's really a brief period at the end of the 19th century when these sort of washstands, these kind of bathing implements were used. Cherry is the primary wood. The white pine, the secondary wood. So it would make sense that it was made in Michigan, but also could have been made up in any of the New England states. You said you bought this in a local antique shop?
GUEST: Yes, sir.
APPRAISER: May I ask you what you paid for it at the time?
GUEST: Yes, sir, we paid $2,400 for it.
APPRAISER: It has been refinished. There's evidence of white paint that somebody painted it.
GUEST: I'm sure.
APPRAISER: It's probably been stained in an earlier period to imitate either walnut or mahogany. As for its value today-- it's not terribly valuable because there's not that much of a demand.
GUEST: Okay, sure.
APPRAISER: I've talked to some of my colleagues and we think that the auction price at this point in time would probably be about $2,500.
GUEST: How much?
APPRAISER: About $2,500.
GUEST: Well, that's great. Well, that's... that's great.
APPRAISER: We appreciate you bringing it in. It's a great example of innovation in furniture.
GUEST: I thank you for looking at it, and we appreciate it, and we just love it.
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