Venetian Blackamoor Humidor, ca. 1880
Appraised Value: $2,000 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:32)
Decorative Arts, Furniture, Metalwork & Sculpture
Senior Vice President, English & Continental Furniture
Doyle New York
GUEST: Well, it was... originally, it belonged to my great-uncle, and then it was passed to my grandmother and then from my grandmother to my parents and then my mother never really cared for it, so one of my cousins asked if he could have it. And he moved to Europe and then I asked him if I could have it, and it was shipped back from Europe to me.
APPRAISER: That's great. And you had mentioned when you were a child...
GUEST: When I was a kid, sometimes you'd run in the house and you'd see it sitting on the table and this man...
APPRAISER: just sitting there would scare you and you'd run out. Well, it certainly is a very unusual object. It is an Italian-carved figure of a blackamoor. It was carved in around about 1880, probably in Venice, and it's of a North African figure. In the 18th and 19th century, there was this obsession with North African figures or what they called blackamoors then. There were these very grand standing figures on either side of doorways, holding fruit cornucopias or torchiers, and from there it spread and there would be side tables, little stands, and in this case, this object. Do you know what it is?
GUEST: I was always told it was a tobacco humidor.
APPRAISER: Okay, well, that's actually right. It is a humidor. So if we take this little fez hat off here, take this off here, I'll just sort of spin this around. And then if we tilt it all the way down, it's got, I believe it's a brass lining. So there would be tobacco or cigars in there.
GUEST: Right. Okay.
APPRAISER: As you can see, unfortunately there is some damage there.
APPRAISER: Which doesn't affect it that much. It's not so bad. This one is very, very well executed. The glass eyes are very, very nicely done. And then also the teeth, as well. Those are actually bone.
APPRAISER: Which is quite unusual. If we look on the sides, he has an earring in there, which I don't believe is original.
APPRAISER: It's got sort of picture wire in there and it looks like someone probably put it in there at a later date.
APPRAISER: But I'm sure at some point he did have earrings in there.
APPRAISER: It's carved out of a hard wood, probably a poplar or a pine. And it's been painted or, what we say is ebonized.
GUEST: Okay. So its value...
APPRAISER: I would put at auction an estimate of about $2,000 to $3,000 on it.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
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