Peters Museum China Trade Collection
Appraised Value: $20,000 - $30,000 (2007)
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (3:22)
Lark Mason & Associates
GUEST: My three-greats grandfather, John R. Peters, in the 1840s, got a chance to be attached to the first diplomatic delegation to China. And during that time, he collected all kinds of Chinese artifacts. He shipped them all back and he had at least one or two exhibitions. One in Philadelphia and I believe in New York. Most of the stuff was sold off. And this has just come down through the family and these-- we've always had these few pieces.
APPRAISER: The exhibition that your ancestor did, John R. Peters, is very famous in my world.
GUEST: Oh, okay. !
APPRAISER: And that is the world of the China trade, Chinese export, which explores the very first time that Americans here in the U.S. had contact with China.
GUEST: I see.
APPRAISER: Now, as a young country, in the 18th century, we had trade going back and forth,
APPRAISER: but that was really removed. That was not a chance for Americans
APPRAISER: to see things.
APPRAISER: Now, there were several what were called "museums," also called
APPRAISER: "cabinets of curiosities" that were established.
GUEST: Uh-huh. !
APPRAISER: This book is the catalog of the exhibition.
APPRAISER: It's actually signed by your ancestor's wife, Mrs. John R. Peters. This particular one was, I guess, in Philadelphia. The exhibition for this was in Philadelphia and in Boston.
GUEST: Oh, Boston.
APPRAISER: And afterwards they sold everything. So what you have are some of the only things that are still left that can be associated with this, which is why they're important.
GUEST: Wow. !
APPRAISER: Now, I want to share with everybody what this looked like. You'd go into this large hall. There were cases full of life-size figures, full of all types of artwork, and this catalog explains what's in the cases. And at the end of this whole exercise, after several years, it was sold. The robe is all silk except some of the threads, which are wrapped in gilded metal. These are probably gold wrapped foil threads. And this is a man's robe,
APPRAISER: hence the dragon. The vase is made of porcelain, with enamel decoration. It would have been made in the city of Jingdezhen, which is the porcelain manufacturing center in China. And I love the interior scenes. These were like a little picture on what life was like in China.
GUEST: Is this made for export specifically?
APPRAISER: This would have been made for export, and these museums were done as ways to promote wares for sale. So it's a for-profit venture.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: But you know, you've got some damage up here. The quality is really good. It dates to the 1840s, and in good condition, a robe like this would have been worth at auction $4,000 to $6,000.
APPRAISER: The vase here in good condition, which it is, is worth $2,500 to $3,500. The thing is, though, as a historical document, these are amazing. So who are the people that would be interested? Institutions.
GUEST: Uh-huh. !
APPRAISER: I would say in a private sale context, where one would present it to the right individual, the group of items with the archival material you've got would have to be worth in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.
GUEST: Oh, my, that's great. Fantastic.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 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.