Charles Schramm Iowa Red Cedar Folk Carving, ca. 1910
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $20,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:51)
J. Michael Flanigan
Folk Art, Furniture
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
GUEST: It was carved by my great-great-uncle Charlie, who was a local grocer in Des Moines, and between 1908 and 1912, he was the city assessor of Des Moines, and in his spare time, he liked to carve wood, and this piece came from Lake Okoboji area. It was his desk set. He used it every day. It sat on his desk, and it's got his inkwell and his pipe.
APPRAISER: Now, the cool thing is we actually have pictures of him.
APPRAISER: So over here we have Charles W. Schramm both as a candidate for city council and then city assessor. When we see these wonderful, fascinating, crazy pieces of folk art, we always have this sense that it's somebody who's spending a little too much time alone in a cabin and maybe isn't in connection with reality as close as we might like, okay? But when you look at this, this guy was a grocer in downtown Des Moines, and he was a politician.
APPRAISER: This is the last thing you think of coming out of a politician. When I saw it, my first reaction was, "Oh, this is an Asian root carving.
APPRAISER: …"and it belongs at the Asia table. They sent it to the wrong place." Well, clearly they didn't. But it is out of a tradition that spans the globe. But the thing that I just love about it is it's like this Tim Burton nightmare.
GUEST: (laughs) Yes.
APPRAISER: It's Hieronymus Bosch. It is... who knows where it came out of his imagination. It's totally freehand. I know you've actually tried to figure out all the different pieces. So let's take a second and go over them. And the most fun thing I get to do is, they want us to use a pointer.
APPRAISER: I get to use his pen. (laughing) And his pen is a carving of snakes. We have a swan. We have some sort of salamander, lizard. Now, back in here we have his clock. We've got our eagle. Then we have the Indian.
GUEST: And his tepee.
APPRAISER: His tepee. We have his dog. We have another animal down here that I love coming out of a grotto.
GUEST: There's a woman.
APPRAISER: Yes, we have a reclining woman here, kind of a la Thomas Hart Benton. I mean, it is... Everything he could put in here is in here. It's great. It's made of red cedar, and you tell me it came from...
GUEST: From Lake Okoboji, where his parents had a summer home.
APPRAISER: I assume you want to keep it in the family.
GUEST: Oh, certainly, yes, certainly.
APPRAISER: And so we really want to talk about insurance value. And it's certainly unique and irreplaceable and all those things that we love. I would be very conservative at estimating this at $15,000 to $20,000.
GUEST: Wow, wonderful.
APPRAISER: It's one of the neatest folk carvings I've ever seen. I'm really glad you brought it in.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
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