Countertop Spice Box Display, ca. 1890
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $6,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:38)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Furniture, Musical Instruments
GUEST: Well, it goes back a few years, maybe about 65. I happened to be working with my father one day on a milk route. We were in the dairy business. There's a gentleman by the name of Mr. Harvey that owned a little market in a small village, Waltz, Michigan. He was getting up in age and he was going to be selling his store. Every time I went in his store to deliver milk, I would kind of look up on the shelf and see this spice box. I guess I just felt I had to own it, so I just asked him if there was a chance I could buy this spice box. And so we made a deal. I don't really remember if it was $10 or $30. I do remember that I would pay Mr. Harvey a few dollars every week until it was paid off.
APPRAISER: I gotta ask you, what was it for this piece to attract a ten-year-old boy?
GUEST: If you just look at the color, the uniqueness of the piece, I was just fascinated by it.
APPRAISER: When you set it on the table, the first thing I noticed was how brilliant the color is. After 38 years of being in this business, I can tell you this is not the first countertop spice rack I've seen out of a country store. I've seen a lot of them. But most of them look like somebody beat them up with a hammer and all the paint is gone, or lots of times, they'd just be painted black. And then they would have the stencil decoration. These panels here, the rooster and the hens and these ships, those were done by a machine process called lithography.
APPRAISER: And they would have done that probably before this piece was assembled on a flat piece of tin. The thing that blows your mind, and I've said this a million times: in this business, when an object talks to you from across the room...
APPRAISER: ...that's the best kind. You've got to walk over there and look at it. Datewise, my thought would be-- I talked with a colleague-- probably from the 1880s maybe up to around 1900 or so.
GUEST: Do you want to taste some of the spices that have been in it for 65 years? (laughing)
APPRAISER: Probably not.
GUEST: They still smell really good.
APPRAISER: I bet they do. Oh, my gosh, those are the same spices that were in it when you bought it?
GUEST: Yeah, my wife almost threw these out, and I said, "Oh, my gosh!" So what I did do is I scooped them out and put the spices in plastic bags.
GUEST: But I'll tell you, every time I walk by this and smell that cinnamon...
APPRAISER: Makes you think about going back to that old store, I bet.
GUEST: It does.
APPRAISER: The people out there that like to recreate country stores, they are driven heavily by the "big boy with the most toy" sort of motivation. Easily, I could see, in a retail setting, the price would probably be around $4,000 to $6,000.
GUEST: Interesting. Let's see, if we worked that out-- let's call it $30-- that worked out quite well. (laughing) But the sentimental value truly is... for me, it's what it's all about.
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