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    Folk Art Memory Tower, ca. 1900

    Appraised Value:

    $4,000 - $6,000

    Appraised on: August 7, 2010

    Appraised in: Des Moines, Iowa

    Appraised by: Allan Katz

    Category: Folk Art

    Episode Info: Des Moines, Hour 1 (#1507)

    Originally Aired: February 14, 2011

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Sculpture
    Material: Pottery, Metal, Gold
    Period / Style: 19th Century, 18th Century
    Value Range: $4,000 - $6,000

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    Appraisal Video: (3:12)


    Appraised By:

    Allan Katz
    Folk Art, Furniture

    Allan Katz Americana

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: This has been in my house ever since I've been a young kid. It's affectionately called "The Thing." My mother said that it was put together by my great-great-grandmother. Judging by some of the dates on the coins, they range from 1880 to 1890, so I would imagine it would have been done shortly thereafter. It's just something you can sit and look at for hours on end, and you'll never see the same thing twice if you look at it long enough.

    APPRAISER: It's a wonderful thing, "The Thing."

    GUEST: "The Thing."

    APPRAISER: It's a piece of memory art. And these pieces were made throughout the United States, typically made on ceramic jugs. The theory behind them is that when a relative passes away and drawers are cleaned out and little pieces of memories are found, they use those pieces to construct a piece of artwork as a memory of that person. And what I find intriguing about this is the fact that she made it of herself. And typically it was always thought they were made after the fact, when the person passed away. And when we start to examine this wonderful use of a late-19th-century pedestal, we see, starting from the top, see a little carved Bible. And going down the piece, some of the things I find intriguing-- the coins, marbles. These might have been memories, prizes that she won at a state fair...

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: These little triangular things... Was she a potter or was there a kiln in the family?

    GUEST: Uh, that I don't know.

    APPRAISER: Because these are little stands that you put a piece of pottery on when you put it in the kiln for firing, so that the air gets underneath and bakes the underneath as well. And there are several of these throughout the memory piece. She must have had some skill to be able to put something like this together.

    GUEST: Absolutely.

    APPRAISER: Now, condition here is imperative, because this is all after-the- fact and applied to the wood. It's plaster, it dries up, the pieces fall off, and we always find them and they're in just deplorable condition.

    GUEST: Mm-hmm.

    APPRAISER: This one is just virtually mint. Now, these large marbles, tell me about those.

    GUEST: Uh, those were replaced at some time by my mother. They are not original.

    APPRAISER: Okay, and you can tell that they're not late-19th-century marbles.

    GUEST: But there were marbles on there.

    APPRAISER: There were marbles on there, okay. Well, let's just turn this around very slowly, and you see a gold bracelet. So there are things put in here of value. Coins-- we don't know how rare they are. We found some teeth. (both chuckling) We do see memory pieces. But this is truly tour de force. And there are people that collect these, and they're very highly thought of in the folk art world, because they are original works of art.

    GUEST: Okay.

    APPRAISER: And as a retail value, I would have no problem saying it was worth between $4,000 and $6,000.

    GUEST: Wow. That's quite a bit.

    APPRAISER: It is, it is.

    GUEST: For something that sat around in the house for years and years and years.

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