Appraisal Video: (4:21)
GUEST: This was handed down to me from my father from his father and his father, Joseph Jalette, who built this tool chest in Chicago in 1873. He was born and raised outside of Quebec, and in 1873, he went to Chicago to help rebuild the city, as a carpenter-- because that's what he was, a carpenter-- after the Great Chicago Fire in October of 1871. As you can see, the outside is very rough, because they built homes by spending a year, a year and a half, in one home to build it. So he kept his tools in here, sometimes he kept his clothes in here, but when one job was finished, they'd have to go from train, to wagon, to different jobs.
APPRAISER: Well, these tool chests were really a résumé for the craftsman.
APPRAISER: This is a carpenter's chest, and there's a bit of everything in this chest. You know, there's carving, there's this letter carving with the gilding, the panels... The sides, which is actually quite unusual for a tool chest, are grain-painted. You know, grain painting was big then, so he was demonstrating his skill at grain painting. And the chests were also, of course, a practical way to hold his tools. They'd be on a job site for quite a while, and these were heavy chests that weren't carried around on a regular basis.
GUEST: Full of tools, yes, it's quite heavy.
APPRAISER: And you just brought up the most important point-- full of tools. I see a lot of great tool chests. I see very few that have the proper tools with them. And that makes all the difference. Very few remain that can be said to be in tact and this is really an in tact tool box. This is for a sharpening stone.
GUEST: That is correct. And he built that himself.
APPRAISER: Right, which, you know, most craftsmen would have made a rudimentary box. He really went the extra mile with this, with all the inlay on it. And this next tool, as well. This is a miter shoulder, or a miter template, which is put down on the edge of a board after you've cut the miter, and you run a chisel along there to trim the miter.
GUEST: Ah, okay.
APPRAISER: Also a tool that's commonly craftsman-made. But he's cut little raised panels in there. Those are carved in to look like they were done with a plane. Really extraordinary. Then we come to this plane, which is, of course, a factor-made plane.
GUEST: That's correct.
APPRAISER: But it's also the real story here. With tool chests that are complete like this, occasionally you'll find one or two tools that are, like, wow tools. This is one of those tools. This was made in Sandusky, Ohio, by the Sandusky Tool Company, which was a very prolific maker. But this was their crème de la crème tool, the center-wheel plow.
GUEST: Oh I didn’t know that.
APPRAISER: It's every collector's dream today to find this plane. In 1877, this plane cost $11.50, when their common plow plane cost three dollars. Not many people pay almost four times as much money for a tool. That's just not how people are.
APPRAISER: It made that a very rare tool. This one is in about as good a condition as I've ever seen. Never cleaned, solid boxwood with French polish that hasn't been cleaned. The brass has never been polished. I mean, it's a collector's dream come true. Here we come to the name stamp for all his tools. And every single one of the tools has that name on it. And collectors love that. If you're going to get a complete set of tools, they love having the name stamp. Tool chests, because they're big and bulky and hard to display, they're not the easiest things to sell. This chest, retail, $1,000 to $1,500 as an empty chest. The tools sitting up here... This is about the nicest oilstone box I've ever seen. You'd still be talking maybe $200 to $300.
APPRAISER: Again, with the mitering template-- $200 to $300. Even though its as nice a template I’ve ever seen.
APPRAISER: And the name stamp, it enhances the tools, but alone, a $25 thing. Do you have any guess as to what that plane might be worth?
GUEST: I don't have a clue. A thousand dollars?
APPRAISER: In this condition, that plane could retail, without batting an eyelash, for $10,000. I think with a little effort, it could bring $15,000.
APPRAISER: It's just so good. I mean, it is just such a nice example. Most tool chests are worth more money together now than they are sold individually. I hate to say it, but this is a case where it probably is worth more separately, just because of that plane. When I saw that plane sitting there, I just... I almost passed out, I was so excited. (laughs)
GUEST: And I almost didn't bring it.