Appraisal Video: (3:26)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: I got it from my uncle, and this young woman that did this sampler was his great-grandmother, so that makes her my great-great-grandmother. And she was eight years old when she did this sampler. And that was in the year 1805.
APPRAISER: Now, how do we know that?
GUEST: It's written on the back here. My uncle knew it.
APPRAISER: Okay. I think it's a lovely piece and I can't understand how an eight-year-old could do something so beautiful.
APPRAISER: Any sense of value?
GUEST: The man that came to the retirement home where I live, he said this was the best piece that he had seen that day. And he told me I should take out fine arts insurance for $10,000.
APPRAISER: When we look at samplers, the person that worked it usually gives us a lot of information. We almost always have their name, sometimes where they did it, and very often their age. So on this one, it's real easy. We have "Elizabeth Ann Pitman," her work, and it says "Newport."
APPRAISER: And so we've got all that, but we don't have the date. Now, we have on the back, written much later, but it says that she was born in 1798.
APPRAISER: and this was done in 1805, they said. There's a great tradition in Rhode Island of really, really high-level needlework.
GUEST: I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: And we can see it from the 1770s. And what's wonderful is that we know this is in the early 1800s, and we still have that great tradition. We look here. We have this really dense floral work all through here, we have the architectural scenes, we have the people, more people up here and here, we have the animals, the trees, so it's a very densely compacted... It's also relatively small, so we'd love to think that she was only eight years old, but I want to tell you something that makes me think it might be a little later.
GUEST: All right.
APPRAISER: When all else fails, look to fashion. On this one, it's real simple. The man? He's wearing long pants. When we always see pictures of George Washington, he's in what?
GUEST: Bloomers or knickers.
APPRAISER: He's in britches with knee socks, okay? And the transition when you go from wearing those knee breeches and the high socks to long pants... Was when? Early 19th century.
GUEST: I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: So she would be six or eight, 1806, it's possible, but I think it's more likely we're maybe as late as 1810.
APPRAISER: Now, ultimately, that's not the most important thing, whether it's 1806, or 1810, 1812. What's important is the quality. It is lovely. And the quality is spectacular. It is beautiful. Everything about it is first-rate. And when that guy told you it was worth $10,000, I think he had a really good starting point.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: Because the market for Rhode Island needlework is very, very strong. I think the auction market might actually attract more interest. I think getting two people to fight over it, if it were to go to auction, would be a more realistic way to assess value.
APPRAISER: And I think if it went to auction, it would easily bring $30,000 to $50,000. And I know you want to keep it in the family, so okay, so we have a good sense of where the auction number is, I'd probably insure it for maybe about $60,000 to $70,000, because I think it would be very tough to go out in the market and get anything as good for anywhere near that price.