Appraisal Video: (3:31)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: It's been in my wife's family since about 1920. We don't know where it was made, who it was made by.
APPRAISER: Well, on the basic level, this is a great tea table. It is, without question, an absolutely spectacular example of American furniture. If you said to me, "My family's had this since the 1920s," your first assumption is, "Oh, it's made in Philadelphia." But actually, I think it was made in New York. And I think it was made in the mid-18th century. A really easy starting point is what we call this gadrooning here. In Philadelphia and Newport examples, there is a fillet in here, which is an extra carved element. The New Yorkers just did the lobe.
APPRAISER: This is the lobe. I looked at the carving, I can say, "Well, it's probably New York but it could easily be very close to Philly." Very, very similar in the knee carving. But if I turn the table just ever so slightly and look at the profile of the leg. See how that back portion is so straight?
GUEST: Mm-hmm, yes.
APPRAISER: It's a very straight line. That's very typical of New York. In Philadelphia, they would come back in here. This curved part in here would be cut in. Now... when we look at a piece like this, we always need to look underneath.
APPRAISER: To get a feel for it, okay? So I'm going to turn it upside down.
APPRAISER: And we're going to try and do this in one stroke. And as they say, "Don't try this at home." Use two people. Now, when we look underneath, what's really wonderful is patination. We always talk about patination. Patination and oxidation, they are absolutely the bywords. These corner blocks in here, clearly undisturbed. When they put glue on, glue is like a finish. It's a little shiny, so whenever you see them rub a glue blot, there's always a nice little shiny mark. So, when you look back here, there's nice little shiny marks where there were glue blocks.
APPRAISER: Now I'm going to turn it back over, so we can look at the top again. In my day job, I actually just move furniture. (both laugh) Now here's the hard part. Remember when I was talking about those shiny spots?
APPRAISER: Those shiny spots were only on the frame. They weren't on the top.
APPRAISER: I think what happened was there was an original table that had either lost or had a damaged top, and somebody came in then and put on this top and this tray gallery.
APPRAISER: And everything from here down is original--
APPRAISER: --and wonderful and absolutely fabulous and rare. But everything from here up, I think was put on in the 1920s. Now, here's the really, really hard part. As it is, the table, just the frame, I think would sell in a retail setting for about $60,000 to $80,000.
GUEST: $60,000 to $80,000?
APPRAISER: $60,000 to $80,000. That's the bad news, because if just the top was right, $200,000 to $400,000.
GUEST (chuckling): Whew. Okay.
APPRAISER: And if the... if we had any sort of gallery left, probably $500,000.
APPRAISER: It's horrible to think we lost 90% of the value when that top went off. And we still have $60,000 to $80,000.