1811 North Carolina Fraktur
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $10,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 7
Appraisal Video: (2:53)
C. Wesley Cowan
Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
APPRAISER: Where did you find this piece?
GUEST: The Morehead Flea Market in North Carolina. I purchased it about 18 years ago.
APPRAISER: Do you go to flea markets a lot?
GUEST: I spend all weekend on a flea market.
APPRAISER: What attracted to you about it?
GUEST: Well, I looked at it and it was from North Carolina in 1811, and I like old stuff.
APPRAISER: What do you know about this piece?
GUEST: I know it's probably in German, and it's...It's what I call a fraktur.
GUEST: They're birth certificates or marriage certificates or something.
APPRAISER: What'd you pay for it?
APPRAISER: Now, fraktur is both a style of writing or lettering, but also a style of this art, which you correctly point out are birth and marriage and death certificates. Most of us tend to think in the folk art world of frakturs that were made by the Pennsylvania Dutch. This particular fraktur was not made by the Pennsylvania Dutch. It was made where?
GUEST: North Carolina?
APPRAISER: Rowan, North Carolina. And you can see that this is the name of the person, Philippina Gaurin. And the lines here, it says she was born in North Carolina in Rowan County in the year 1811, on the 27th of June. And then it goes on to list her parents and people who are witnessing her baptism. So in this particular case, this is probably a birth certificate and a baptismal certificate. North Carolina frakturs are really very, very rare.
APPRAISER: When you brought this up to the folk art table, we all were marveling at it because we just don't see Southern frakturs. This one has all sorts of great stuff going for it, starting with these wonderful parrots, but then this pinwheel decoration, the arch, the flowering vines. It's a fabulous piece. It does have some condition problems. You can see here where it's been folded. That's okay. A lot of frakturs were folded. Typically, they were kept in family Bibles. So I would imagine that originally, this was in a Bible and it was folded and unfolded. There are some areas of separation here that make this less desirable than one that was in perfect condition. On the other hand, it's so rare compared to Pennsylvania fraktur that you just never see them. What's it worth today? What do you think?
GUEST: A couple hundred dollars?
APPRAISER: A number of us discussed what the value of this would be at auction, and all of us agreed that conservatively, an $8,000 to $10,000 estimate.
GUEST: Wow! (chuckles) Wow, what is great. That is great.
APPRAISER: So that $40 looks cheap now, right?
GUEST: Yeah, that's right.
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