1850s English Papier Mache Sewing Box
Appraised Value: $2,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:38)
GUEST: It was a gift to me from my husband for Valentine's Day. He found it for me from a dealer in Florida, I believe. And that's about all I know.
APPRAISER: And how long have you owned it?
GUEST: Just this past Valentine's Day, so not very long.
APPRAISER: Oh, that's pretty sweet. Well, it's a sewing box. Do you know what it's made out of?
GUEST:: At first, we thought wood, but the more we looked at it we thought it was some kind of composition.
APPRAISER: Well, it is a composition. It's papier-mache, which is a paper material actually started by the Chinese. And what it is are layers and layers of paper and they're held together by a binding agent such as glue. Now, they use a lot of different resins and things like that, but mostly it's glue and paper, and it makes it very strong. It's strong enough that the Chinese made some of their warriors' helmets out of this type of material and it gave strength and rigidity. Now, your box here, it's in remarkable condition. It's pristine in that there's no wear even to the decoration, where normally there would be wear. Now, it's English, and the reason we know it's English is because of who it's celebrating. It's celebrating Queen Victoria. And on the right, of course, is her loving husband, who died in the early 1860s. So she went actually went into severe depression and mourning after he died.
APPRAISER: She would not have worn white after he died. So this box probably dates to around the 1850s, in that era. The inside is exquisite. What you see on the inside are some of the implements that are original to the box. You have these little, tiny sewing implements like this, which they would wrap their thread onto this ivory spool. We also have scissors, we have the pincushion. Now let's take a look at the inside. Let's close this. First, we'll open the doors. This drawer is the most special of all the drawers, because this also has the additional lady's writing surface here. This is like a mini traveling desk. So, with this beautiful writing surface, all these fitted small drawers, this material which is beautiful condition, it makes this a very, very special box. Now, I know this is a very personal thing and you probably don't know it because it's a present, but do you know how much your husband might have paid for this?
GUEST: Well, he just told me today.
APPRAISER: Oh, he did?
GUEST: Yes. He paid $1,200 for it.
APPRAISER: $1,200? Well, that was a very fair price. Okay. I would say it's probably worth closer to $2,000.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.