Appraisal Video: (-1:-7:56)
GUEST: My mother had a cousin called Annie. And Cousin Annie had a lot of antiques. I think she was born about 1850. I inherited it when my mother died ten years ago. But as a child I used it to put my important things in it.
APPRAISER: Your important things.
APPRAISER: Well, like what?
GUEST: I lived in Philadelphia. If you take public transportation...
GUEST:...you get a transfer to take another bus.
GUEST: And I put them in there, and I pretended it was money. Today I use it for my earrings.
APPRAISER: Okay, and what do you think it is?
GUEST: From what I've heard, a salesman would take this around and use it as a sample of his work. If people liked it, they would come and he'd build a big one. I think a highball-- is that what they called them?
APPRAISER: A highboy, like a miniature...
GUEST: Highboy, yes. Like a chest on a stand.
APPRAISER: What you have is an 18th century, circa 1740 to 1770, walnut Queen Anne chest. And it was called, really, a valuables chest. So the fact that you kept in it the tickets, and now you keep your jewelry in there, you're using it for what it was used for 200 years ago.
APPRAISER: I didn't know that. So these little locks were meant to lock things up.
GUEST: It wasn't made as a sample for a salesman?
APPRAISER: There is no evidence that these were made as that. If you blew this up, the proportion wouldn't be exactly like a big one.
APPRAISER: Let me just pull out a drawer and just show you what you have here. This is actually cedar, which should keep away insects. And on the side there's this poplar. You see that green wood? Those two woods were used in Philadelphia, Chester County, all those areas near Philadelphia, in the Queen Anne period on furniture. See those wonderful dovetails?
APPRAISER: And kerf marks. And look at the back of the drawer. Here are the original post and nut. So you have the original Chippendale brasses on this. You have this overhanging cornice, wonderful molded drawers, three over two, over a graduated set of three. Now, if I take this top off and we look at the bottom of this chest right here, you can see from the witness mark, the light poplar, it shows that this is exposed to air, and this is not oxidized. That means this always had a base like this on there. It didn't have bracket feet at one time. That's important. It always had a base. The base would have looked exactly like this. Cabriole legs, trifid feet. It's like a three toe, called a trifid. But this is not an old enough base. I'm sorry to say that. It was done 100 years ago.
APPRAISER: Okay, so it's nothing you did or your parents. There was something lovingly done. Right here on the back, if you look at the tool marks, you see these chatter marks right here?
APPRAISER: That's from a machine tool. It wasn't invented in the 18th century. If you look at, also, this right here, there is no shrinkage. Also, if you look on the back side of this, all the edges are so sharp you can cut yourself. Feel the edge of that now. Run your hand on that. See how all that's beat up and... that's from 200 years of use. That's why we don't refinish pieces, we don't clean them away. And that's why this is such a treasure. I was so excited. You made my day, okay?
GUEST: And you made mine.
APPRAISER: As a wonderful piece that has a replaced base, it is worth at auction probably $5,000 to $8,000, in that range. Now, it could do better, because these are very rare. They never come up. Now, if this had its original base, it would be worth in the range of $60,000 to $80,000.
GUEST: Oh, my mother had this appraised about 1940 something, during the war.
GUEST: And they told her that this was different.
APPRAISER: Oh, they did?
GUEST: And they said it was worth, as I recall, because I was a little girl, between $4,000 and $6,000, so it's right on. That is something. I did think it would improve.
APPRAISER: During the '40s, replaced parts were not as major as they are today. So during the '40s, this would have been a minor thing. And let me tell you what one with original feet was probably worth then-- about $5, 000 to $8,000. It's not one-tenth of the value like it is today. Today, condition is everything. And this base is a big part of the value. Cherish it.
GUEST: Oh, I will. I'm never going to sell it. I'm going to give it to my niece.
APPRAISER: Oh, that's nice.