Appraisal Video: (4:35)
APPRAISER: I didn't expect to have to come to Honolulu to find a piece from the East Coast. Do you know where this piece is from?
GUEST: Greenwich, Connecticut.
APPRAISER: You think it's made in Greenwich, or what do you think?
GUEST: Oh, I'm not sure where it's made, but that's where my grandfather lived.
APPRAISER: Okay. And so that's where he brought it from. So he brought it from Greenwich. And how did it come to you, may I ask?
GUEST: Uh, my grandfather was living in Kipahulu on Maui, and he and my grandmother were there, and they needed some help, so my husband and I moved over there to help him. My grandmother died, and so I was taking care of it. And by this time, he had shipped some of his pieces from Greenwich--
GUEST: --out to his house, because he lived there full-time now. And I ended up with this piece.
GUEST: I had my phone on it for the last 20 years.
APPRAISER: That's all right. Look, it's a nice phone table to me, I'll tell you. I love this, because I live and breathe wonderful wood in 18th century furniture, okay? That's what makes me tick. Okay. I don't know if you know, but it does, okay? This was made right in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-- not Connecticut-- about 1745 to 1750.
APPRAISER: It's called a dressing table. In the trade, we call it a lowboy. Have you ever heard of that term?
GUEST: That's what he always called it, was a lowboy.
APPRAISER: He always called it a lowboy? Okay, that's the trade term, and people still call them lowboys. But these dressing tables, or lowboys, were made with a high chest, a tall piece. They were sold together.
APPRAISER: And then, they often got separated. So somewhere out there, there's a mate to this. This molded top is above this long drawer. It has a molded edge. And then, below here, you have three drawers. And you have this wonderful cyma curve and this very baroque arch here with a little drop.
APPRAISER: And it's all supported by these cabriole legs. And you come down to that foot, and some people call it a Spanish foot. This type of foot was typical of the best made in Philadelphia. Now, we know that the thing is authentic. I've looked over the piece a little bit. Just take out the drawer, and if you look at the drawer sides, has these wonderful dovetails. This is all poplar and white pine. And these attach with beautiful rose head nails. And all of this wear. See how that's scraped away?
APPRAISER: All makes perfect sense, Robin, because it's been scraping on here since about 1750. Now, the top is exactly what you like to see. The top is this wonderful tiger maple, and tiger maple is something that wasn't just grown. You know, you had to cut the tree. You had to go through a lot of maple to find a piece of wood that had this kind of fiddleback. The question is on this: is the top original to the piece? Okay? And I know this is loose, 'cause I lifted it up before, right?
APPRAISER: So I'm going to carefully lift this. If I just take this board-- it's a two-board top, right?
APPRAISER: And just put it like this, you'll see that the tigering, the curly figure on the inside of the case matches that on the top. It's clearly from the same wood source. Also, the oxidation-- the discoloration from being exposed to the little bit of air that was getting in there--
APPRAISER: --it matches. So we know that those two pieces are what? The side of this case and this top have been next to each other, we feel, for about 250 years. I mean, that's a good thing, right?
GUEST (chuckling): Right.
APPRAISER: Okay, but watch this. We've got to make sure that all the holes on the top match the holes on the case. On here.
APPRAISER: The attachment holes. If we do that and see that there's a big old hole right there, there's no hole there.
APPRAISER: But I was here with my colleagues, and one said, "Leigh, slide the top over." When you slide the top over about an inch and a half, look.
APPRAISER: That hole matches that hole.
APPRAISER: And this hole matches. And if I take my finger from these two holes and go like this, here's the hole here, and there's a shank of a nail right there on the top of that leg. So what that means is, this is the original top.
GUEST: What do you think happened? They redid it?
APPRAISER: They shaved down a top that had a big overhang.
APPRAISER: They took a few inches off, and they shaved it down. It must have gotten damaged on the edge or something. But the great thing is that everything does match, and you can explain what happened, okay?
APPRAISER: With the top original but reshaped, the value of this on the East Coast, I'll tell you, it's probably worth a little more probably on the East Coast, probably in Philadelphia and New York, where these things were made, you know?
APPRAISER: Would be about $12,000 retail, okay? That's what it's worth. Now let me tell you what it would be worth if it hadn't been cut, because condition is so important of American furniture.
APPRAISER: Uncut, it would be worth about ten times that, about $120,000.
GUEST (chuckling): Oh, boy.
APPRAISER: I mean, this happened 150 years ago.
GUEST: Yeah, they cut it.
APPRAISER: So it's nothing you did.
GUEST: It's nothing I did.
APPRAISER: If you told me, "Leigh, I did that last week," I think you'd be a little more bummed out, right?
GUEST: Right, right.
APPRAISER: But that's not bad, right?
GUEST: No, definitely not.
APPRAISER: It's a wonderful piece. Thanks for making my day here.
GUEST: Thank you. Wow. $12,000. That's a lot of money.