Italian Majolica Parrot Sculpture, ca. 1920
Appraised Value: $2,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:37)
Decorative Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Vice President of Special Collections
GUEST: I love going to thrift shops and consignment shops and treasure hunting. And my husband and I walked into a consignment shop and I saw the parrot and I had to have him. He is just amazing.
APPRAISER: Here in Philadelphia?
GUEST: Right outside of Philadelphia. I've had to become more selective because of space issues.
APPRAISER: Well, normally if you find something at a thrift or a consignment shop, it's not going to be a whole lot of money. How much did you pay for this one?
GUEST: It's more than I usually spend, but...
APPRAISER: Yeah, that's kind of high-end for a thrift.
APPRAISER: And how long ago did you buy him?
GUEST: About two or three years.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, he was modeled in Italy and it's hard to date him exactly, but he's early 20th century. And there's a tradition in continental Europe of modeling large-scale birds and animals in ceramic, which dates back really to the Meissen Porcelain Works almost 300 years ago, where they made full-scale figures of animals and larger. But he's not made in porcelain, he's made in what they call in Italy majolica ware. And majolica is generically termed tin-glazed earthenware. Now, all the colors in ceramics come from the action of metals or minerals that oxidize when they're being fired. And tin, when it oxidizes, clouds white. So, it became a very successful way of covering a piece of earthenware to make it white or, effectively, to make it look like porcelain. You can see, just in a few little spots where the glaze hasn't taken, you can see the natural color of the earthenware underneath which is kind of a brick-red color. There's a chip down here where you can see a larger section of it. And that identifies it as most likely Italian or certainly Mediterranean made. This is not a piece that we're going to be able to identify the manufacturer, the modeler, even the date precisely. But it doesn't really matter who modeled it or where and when it was made, because the value is as a decorative object. It's almost what we might call an interior decorator's accessory. And if someone wants a very large white earthenware figure of a parrot, here it is. And it's not an easy thing to find. I think if this was in an antique shop, you could certainly put a price on this of $2,000.
APPRAISER: And I don't think that would be unreasonable.
GUEST: No, it's great.
APPRAISER: We all loved him when you brought him to the table. And, you know, wow, he's quite an eyeful.
GUEST: But it's a great thing, you know.
APPRAISER: It really is. I love him.
GUEST: Nicely modeled, yeah.
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