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    Philadelphia Spice Box, ca. 1775

    Appraised Value:


    Appraised on: August 5, 2006

    Appraised in: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Appraised by: Leigh Keno

    Category: Furniture

    Episode Info: Philadelphia, Hour 3 (#1106)

    Originally Aired: February 5, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Spice Box
    Material: Mahogany, Pine
    Period / Style: 18th Century
    Value Range: $85,000

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    Appraisal Video: (0:00)


    Appraised By:

    Leigh Keno
    Folk Art, Furniture

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: This has been in my family forever. I remember it growing up, always on a table in the corner, and it was something that's always been kind of treasured by our family members. My father traced it back to 1750.

    APPRAISER: Okay. I saw a little inscription on a piece of paper that said...

    GUEST: Weiss, yes. Jacob Weiss.

    APPRAISER: He was a pretty well-known colonel in Philadelphia-- German descent, and he would have been able to afford a special thing like this. They were really popular in England in the 17th century. And in America, in Boston and Connecticut, in that area, spice boxes became unpopular. Down in Pennsylvania, they kept making them. I believe that this is probably made right here in Philadelphia.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: And it was made somewhere between, I'd say about 1765 and 1780. Now, they were sometimes made out of curly maple. They were sometimes made out of black walnut, American black walnut, which is a local wood. That'd be more expensive. And really, really, really rarely, they were made out of mahogany.

    GUEST: Mahogany?

    APPRAISER: And this box... I was going to say cherry. This box is actually made out of figured mahogany. If you look at these figured panels here, these applied arch panels, which are on these mahogany doors, and come down to this molded base with a drop pendant, and this is really rare.

    GUEST: This?

    APPRAISER: Yeah. They rarely have a drop pendant. They were usually just plain here, or they had bracket feet. But to have the ogee bracket feet and the dropped pendant, that's really special. And then the mahogany, as I said, was expensive, because it had to be imported.

    GUEST: Imported.

    APPRAISER: It didn't grow here. They had these escutcheons in the front, which would have been ordered from Birmingham to lock this.

    GUEST: Mm-hmm.

    APPRAISER: And during the time when they did put spices in them--

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: --the spices were worth as much as the box. Now this is what really-- I get excited about it, okay-- the fact that when you open up these mahogany doors, what's in the very center that's unbelievable?

    GUEST: This drawer?

    APPRAISER: That drawer. Do you know that I cannot find-- I did some quick homework-- we can't find any spice boxes with that design? With a fan there. This fan turns up on desks from the 18th century, from Philadelphia and this area. And to find it on the inside of a spice chest, with that punch work... do you see that wonderful punch work in there?

    GUEST: Oh, yeah.

    APPRAISER: Isn't that neat? It's really special. I mean, this is a top-end, this is like a deluxe model. Look at the sides here.

    GUEST: Mm-hmm.

    APPRAISER: Yellow pine. That's a locally grown wood. Look at the thinness of them. They're usually about another eighth of an inch thicker. See how fine that is? And the detailing on the dovetails, it's just absolute, absolute quality. Everything here is what you want to see. It looks like it wasn't made long ago, because it's been protected from the air. So, value-wise, any idea?

    GUEST: Well, what I was doing in the basement, looking for pictures and things that went with this, I did find an appraisal from 1967 down in Philly, for $5,000.

    APPRAISER: $5,000 in 1967. Today this box, because it has the double panels--

    GUEST: Mm-hmm, mahogany. ...

    APPRAISER: --because it has the drop pendant, because it's mahogany, because it has that shell, all those things added up, all the extras, that would make the spice box worth, let's say, retail, $85,000.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: $85,000 just as it is.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: Do you know who cleaned it ever?

    GUEST: My father always took great care of it.

    APPRAISER: He took care of it.

    GUEST: I haven't done a thing to it. He was... very much loved it.

    APPRAISER: Well, on 18th century furniture like this, you like... well, you like to see it grungy. If this were grungy...

    GUEST: Yeah?

    APPRAISER: Guess what this would be.

    GUEST: Don't tell me.

    APPRAISER: Can I? Do you mind?

    GUEST: Go ahead.

    APPRAISER: You can add 100.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: Add 100,000.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: It'd be $185,000, easily.

    GUEST: Wow. That's a big difference.

    APPRAISER: But still, 85 and you spiced up my day. I know that's corny, but you spiced up my life.

    GUEST: Thank you.

    APPRAISER: They'll probably cut that, right? Cut that. That was corny.

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