Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    Duncan Phyfe Dressing Table, ca. 1818

    Appraised Value:

    $12,000 - $14,000

    Appraised on: August 23, 2008

    Appraised in: Hartford, Connecticut

    Appraised by: Leigh Keno

    Category: Furniture

    Episode Info: Hartford, Hour 3 (#1318)

    Originally Aired: May 25, 2009

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Dresser
    Material: Ormolu, Mahogany, Poplar
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $12,000 - $14,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (3:29)


    Appraised By:

    Leigh Keno
    Folk Art, Furniture

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: I got it from my mother, who got it from her mother.

    APPRAISER: Okay.

    GUEST: And it goes back, we think, to the early 1800s. I'm not sure.

    APPRAISER: I saw a note in it, it says "Silas Talbot."

    GUEST: We think he bought it, but we're not sure. It could have been his son.

    APPRAISER: Right.

    GUEST: ...And Silas was a hero in the Revolutionary War.

    APPRAISER:A famous Revolutionary War hero, right?

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: So what we're looking at, it's a dressing table. And it is from the period from about 1815 to 1818, right in there. We know it's made in New York. Now the big question is here, was it made by Duncan Phyfe? And we hear all the time people say, "Oh, my Phyfe pieces"-- anything with a saber leg.Well, this I'm going to go through with you. First of all, starting at the top, you have these French, wonderfully worked ormolu mounts. You can feel a sharp detail on them. They're crisp, wonderful. These columns are slightly tapered, just like the Roman, the Neoclassical. And this is typical of the early 19th century interpretation of the Classical in America. And if you come down and look at this lower section, it's like a painting. A beautiful veneered mahogany done really, really well. And, again, the columns with these really great quality capitals. And then these paw feet with wonderful scroll leaves. Now, all of this, just looking at this, is typical of Duncan Phyfe. And I do feel that this is from his shop.

    GUEST: Oh.

    APPRAISER: Of course, the famous man who came from Scotland and worked from the late 18th century right up to the early 19th century. At one time, he had 100 workers in his shop. Over a hundred people working, so he was very prolific. And I want to take out this one drawer right here and just show you these incredibly fine--right here-- do you see those dovetails? They are incredibly narrow and fine. And the wood on the sides is actually probably a Cedrela. It's almost like a cigar box wood. They want to use a more formal wood on the secondary woods. On the bottom you have tulip poplar. And if you run your hand on there... run your hand this way. Feel the hand planing? Feel that slight... so that's hand-planed poplar, typical of New York. And then these poplar... tulip poplar glue blocks.All of this-- the way it's done, the precision, the quality-- is typical of Phyfe.

    GUEST: Really?

    APPRAISER: And I do think this is a Duncan Phyfe dressing table. But probably for the son of Silas, because it's too late to be Silas. I want to also point out that the brasses are replaced.

    GUEST: Yes, I wondered about that.

    APPRAISER: You can see the witness mark on the front from the original, more circular pull. So the value on Classical furniture in general in the marketplace is a little bit down, but these early Classical pieces are better. And Duncan Phyfe is one of the great guys. There is a show coming up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Duncan Phyfe, and basically that's all going to help the value of this. But right now, I'd say the value on this, in a shop in New York, this is worth $12,000.

    GUEST: Well, that's wonderful.

    APPRAISER: And it could even be $14,000.

    GUEST: Thank you very much. I loved hearing about it.

    APPRAISER: I love looking at it.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube