1884 Cincinnati-Carved Curio Cabinet
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $9,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:39)
Jeni Sandberg 20th Century Design
GUEST: I brought in a cabinet that my grandfather gave me.
APPRAISER: And how long ago was that?
GUEST: It was for my 25th birthday, so that would have been 20 years ago. He asked my mother if there was anything that I'd ever wanted or talked about, and she said that there was a cabinet with birds on the front of it that I talked about a lot, apparently. So he found it in the back of his closet and presented it to me for my birthday, so...
APPRAISER: Nice. So your grandfather was from Cincinnati?
GUEST: From the area.
APPRAISER: And what do you know about the cabinet?
GUEST: I know it was made in 1884. It says it on the front.
APPRAISER: Right, very handy.
GUEST: Other than that, that's about it.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, it's a beautiful cabinet, and it is indeed, I would guess, from 1884. That makes perfect sense. Even if it hadn't been dated, stylistically, it's very much part of the aesthetic movement.
APPRAISER: And here in Cincinnati, Cincinnati was of course a rapidly growing city at that time. It had a lot of cabinetmakers making furniture for all of the people who were moving here. There was a very prominent maker by the name of Ben Pitman. He was English, and he came over here. He first worked as a reporter. But by the 1870s, he became involved with the art academy here in Cincinnati and with the university. He was very interested in design. He was interested in promoting women in design as well. And he made furniture. His style is very distinctive. He has this sort of stippled background to the flat-carved panels, and a lot of this sort of detailing that you see here on the sides. The aesthetic movement was very interested in nature. That's a very typical design motif that you'll see. So here we have birds on the front of the doors. These types of little hanging curio cabinets were also very typical of the time. Ben Pitman was a really interesting guy. He had a...it was sort of considered a school of carving here in the Cincinnati area. So while this piece is not signed, I think it's pretty safe to assign this either to him or to one of his followers.
APPRAISER: It can be difficult to distinguish between them sometimes because he worked closely with a number of people. This is beautiful mahogany, carved, highly detailed. It has beautiful color, so it hasn't been stripped and refinished, all of that.
APPRAISER: It has these lovely brass strap hinges that are nice, again very aesthetic movement. Ben Pitman's furniture is on the rise, I think it's safe to say. So I think for insurance purposes, the value for a piece like this would probably be about $8,000 or $9,000.
GUEST: Wow. I've always said if the house catches fire, the first thing that I'm grabbing is this.
APPRAISER: This is what you'd take?
GUEST: And then people and animals after that.
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