20th-Century Reproduction Federal Sideboard

Value (2005) | $1,500 Retail$2,000 Retail

APPRAISER:
People always ask me on the ROADSHOW when I'm appraising something that's huge, a huge piece of furniture, do people carry these things with them? How did you get this here?

GUEST:
Well, actually, the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW was kind enough to pick it up. I sent in a picture, and, uh, we ended up here.

APPRAISER:
So there was a photograph that you sent in to the show and a little letter, and tell us what you know about this piece.

GUEST:
Well, I don't really know much about it at all. I was looking for an old piece, a credenza for my office, that had to fit in a particular spot, about this size. And a friend of mine who had an antique store in Newport, Rhode Island, was retiring. And, uh, he found this piece, and here it is.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm. Did he tell you how old it was?

GUEST:
He didn't know very much about the piece. He had just acquired it. And he really didn't know an awful lot about it.

APPRAISER:
Okay, how much did you pay for it?

GUEST:
I paid, uh, $850 about a year ago.

APPRAISER:
Now, in the note I remember that you had said that you thought it was from 1800, that it was a Federal sideboard.

GUEST:
The only reason I thought that was, I saw a photograph in an antique magazine of a piece that looked very, very similar.

APPRAISER:
Right, right.

GUEST:
And that's what the caption of that piece had said.

APPRAISER:
Right. Which is probably the first lesson here, is that you can't appraise something from a photograph. The advance crew who looked at your picture and saw your note thought, we might have a Federal sideboard here, from 1800. Let's give it a shot. So do you want the good news first, or the bad news first?

GUEST:
That's up to you-- I'll let you surprise me.

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, I'm going to give you the bad news first. And that is that this is not a period sideboard. It was made in the 20th century and very late in the 20th century. Of course, it's all done in mahogany, it's very beautiful wood. But the real tell-tale sign is when you begin to look further at the piece, and as I open the drawers, can you tell what those drawer bottoms are made out of?

GUEST:
No, I can't, but... It doesn't look like it's solid mahogany.

APPRAISER:
No, it's not. They're made of plywood. And the wood has been stained through this whole piece, so not really old at all. Now, the good news is that for $850, I think you're safe. Certainly in the secondary market in a shop, we'd expect this to be twice that amount of money, in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. It's beautifully made, it's solid mahogany. Except for that plywood. But it's got a great look to it. So it's a wonderful find.

GUEST:
Well, that's nice to hear. I'm going to enjoy it.

APPRAISER:
If this were an 18th-century piece of furniture, we would be looking at in the $15,000, $20,000 range.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2005)
$1,500 Retail$2,000 Retail
Event
Providence, RI (June 18, 2005)
Period
20th Century
Form
Sideboard
Material
Mahogany

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

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