Ivory & Pâte de Verre Figure, ca. 1900
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:28)
Metalwork & Sculpture
Lillian Nassau, LLC
GUEST: I bought this piece about 30 years ago in Berrien Springs. I bought it from a little old lady who had a shop, and she had some antiques out on her porch and a sign in front of the house, but to get to the antique shop, we had to walk through her living room. And I spotted this piece in her living room and asked her about it. She hadn't considered selling it before, and she did mention that her daughter had shown some interest in it, and she said, "I should probably call my daughter first." And so she called her daughter and didn't get an answer, and she said, "Oh, if she'd been that interested, she probably would have shown more interest sooner." And so I was thrilled, because then she was willing to sell it to me.
APPRAISER: One of the things that we find exciting is coming to the show and being presented with something that we've never seen before. I've done a lot of the Roadshows and I've been in business a long time, and I've never seen this kind of a piece. It's made out of ivory here at the top. This middle part is glass, and the base is marble. What's unusual about this lower part is that it's made through a technique called pâte de verre, and in French that means "glass paste." It's made using ground-up pieces of colored glass that are then put in a mold, and then this mold is fired in a kiln. Most glass is either blown or molded or cast, but this is actually fired. And it gives this very interesting, sort of translucent effect. I wasn't able to find out who the artist on this particular piece was. It is signed, and it's just very hard to read. This was done around 1900, and it's probably French. There were two companies that did this kind of pâte de verre. One was Daum Nancy, and the other one was a company called Walter. And they cast sculpture by artists in glass. The subject matter is the biblical figure of Salome.
APPRAISER: First of all, she seems like an exotic figure. She has this headband that's sort of reminiscent of a Middle Eastern costume, and she has a sword behind her, and this is consistent with the story of Salome, who danced and, as a reward, she was asked what she wanted, and she said she wanted the head of John the Baptist.
APPRAISER: So that's one of the possibilities. And then there was also a biblical figure named Judith, who seduced the king Holofernes, and in the middle of the night, she cut off his head.
APPRAISER: And helped defeat the army.
GUEST: All pleasant stories. Right.
APPRAISER: I think what's interesting about this decorative band here is it serves a function in that it covers the joint between these two pieces of ivory. So it's not only decorative, but it's functional and practical. It's a wonderful, wonderful piece, and, as I said, I've never seen anything like it. Most pieces that have ivory on it are bronze. This is in just beautiful condition. Ivory is affected by changes in temperature and humidity, and many times, these can fracture along the fault lines. Ivory can also discolor from cigarette smoke. So, now, what did you pay?
GUEST: Two hundred.
APPRAISER: Two hundred dollars. I would estimate it with a retail price of between $3,000 and $5,000.
GUEST: Oh, wonderful. That's a good return.
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