Rosewood Boston Pier Table, ca. 1820
Appraised Value: $45,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (26:40)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: It came down in my family. It belonged to my great-great-grandparents. They lived in Salem, Massachusetts, and as far as we know, they just purchased it, and I think they were the original owners.
APPRAISER: So, what brought the family to Grand Rapids?
GUEST: They came in about 1850. They were early settlers here. My great-grandfather was once, I guess, engaged to a Miss Saltonstall. Did not marry her.
GUEST: And so he left and came to Grand Rapids and married his true love.
APPRAISER: Now, what would you like to know about this piece?
GUEST: It's never been appraised. I know it's a pier table, and I'd love for you to tell me more about it.
APPRAISER: Well, a pier table would sit between the windows, and as you can see under here, there's a mirror.
APPRAISER: And typically on a pier table, you would have a mirror above. So that if you were staring at that wall, you'd see window, mirror, mirror, window.
APPRAISER: So it will give you that kind of window wall effect. A pier table typically has a marble top just like this one.
APPRAISER: And this one's actually marked. Do you know what it says underneath? It says, "Hawes and Barstow, Boston, Massachusetts." Our immediate reaction is, "Oh, that's the maker." But as you well know, they're commission merchants.
APPRAISER: They're not the maker. At this point, it's an anonymous maker. But that's quite all right, because it's a great piece, whether we know who made it or not. Whenever you see these very fancy mounts, you almost always assume, "Oh, it must be New York." You'll find them on some Boston pieces and even fewer Philadelphia pieces. But when I look at it a lot more closely, I start to see things that I think are much more characteristic of Boston. When you look down at the bottom there, you see these marks here?
APPRAISER: This is a flexible molding, which is brass and it's typically backed by lead.
APPRAISER: And Bostonians used this in upholstery work. They'd wrap it around the ends of sofas, and you'll see it on the feet of pier tables where they'd wrap it around a ball foot.
APPRAISER: And Bostonians seem to do this more than anybody else. Now, when we look at the feet... And I know they look as black as your shoes. But in this case, they're what we call "verd antique," which means they're actually painted to simulate aged bronze like a bronze sculpture.
APPRAISER: So they're actually a kind of greenish gold. They're much closer in reality to this color than to the black that we see.
GUEST: My heaven.
APPRAISER: That's one area where actually cleaning a piece is a positive, because the varnish is blackened, and it's obscured that really beautiful verd antique. And those feet would really start to jump and dance for us. The other thing about this that's really nice is that pretty much everything they could add to it, they have, so if we start at the bottom,
APPRAISER: we have the verd antique feet. We have the flexible molding. Then we have these brass mounts and bases. Then these wonderful mounts.
APPRAISER: And then, you can see along the back edge and coming up the side?
APPRAISER: That's a brass-and- ebony inlay molding. And that outlines the mirror, and on top of it all, it's all done in rosewood. And rosewood was the most expensive wood of its day. And anytime you see a piece this early-- and I think in this case, we're talking about 1815 to, at the latest, 1820-25-- we're talking the best of the best. There's very little of this really high-end Boston material. I would insure this for at least $45,000.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh. Oh, wow! That's very exciting. That's amazing.
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