Salesman's Sample Medical Examination Table, ca. 1890
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $18,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:59)
Toys & Games
Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
GUEST: Well, it belonged to my great-grandfather. He was a doctor. I know it was a salesman's sample that he kept in his office. When my parents passed away, I inherited it. My mother sent pictures of it to an appraiser in San Francisco in, I believe, '79 or '80, and they sent her back a note saying it was worth around $1,500.
APPRAISER: Well, it is a salesman's sample. A lot of people wonder what's the difference between a salesman's sample and a miniature, and the keynote of a really good salesman's sample is that it has functionality, because the whole object of the piece was to demonstrate the item. The salesman could carry this around from town to town and show the doctor exactly what he had. And of all the salesman samples I've dealt with over the years, this is probably the most amazingly functional item I've ever seen. It's a doctor's examination table, and it's a multifunction examination table. The patient could lie down here and be examined, with a pillow. If he had to have his height adjusted, this could be adjusted here. If he had to have his legs examined, the legs would come up like this. They could even do one leg at a time. It's absolutely astounding. This is a little accessory that would go on the side if he had to examine an arm...
GUEST: That's what I thought.
APPRAISER: Or maybe draw blood. And it could of course go on either side. The table would rock to one side. I'm not exactly sure what that was for, but it could go either way. This whole leg assembly comes off.
GUEST: Oh, I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: So that another feature of the table could be in place where it becomes a gynecological examination table with the installation of these stirrups. Other features... this bends down. So it has all this incredible functionality. Another thing that elevates a salesman's sample to the next level is if we can identify the maker. Now, right here on this upholstered foot rest, we see "Allison." I did some research. There was a company called "W.D. Allison" in 1905, 1900 in Indianapolis that made all manner of medical equipment.
APPRAISER: Nothing they made in that period that I've seen online was as amazing as this table. But I think this table was made pre-1900, amazing detail, amazing condition, complete in all respects.
APPRAISER: And I would estimate it in an auction at $15,000 to $18,000.
GUEST: You're kidding.
APPRAISER: I am not kidding.
APPRAISER: This is absolutely one of the finest salesman's samples I have ever seen.
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