Child’s Swan Sleigh, ca. 1880
I got it at a rummage sale about seven years ago, and I paid about $35 for it. I bought it in the Fond du Lac area. I think it came from Waupun, which there are a lot of Dutch people in Waupun. And basically that's all I know about it.
What we have here is a child's sled. But it really transcends being a sled, and it falls into the category of American folk sculpture. It is American. It's pine. It's an unknown maker. It was not mass-produced. It was made lovingly by someone to give to a child to take for sleigh rides. It's beautifully constructed and beautifully carved. And it was made to be used. It is utilitarian, and that's what's so wonderful about it in terms of folk sculpture. You have this screw here that was probably painted over but is now visible because the paint has popped off of it. And that attached and made the head stronger so the child could hold onto it and it would not break. You have these metal braces inside, which curve with the shape of the wing. 30 years ago we would have said it's unique. But about 20 years ago, another sled, same form, surfaced.
And it's approximately twice the size of this one.
Oh, my gosh.
So that leads me to speculate that it might have been made by the same maker for a younger child, the larger sled being for the older child. Beautifully made. Beautiful shaped wood runners. Underneath is the metal. Probably the only thing that wasn't made was this handle that was turned and probably salvaged off a Victorian doll carriage. Something like that.
I would value it at somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000.
Oh, my gosh! I could just cry. I had no idea.
It's a wonderful, wonderful object. So I just thank you today for bringing it in to Antiques Roadshow and sharing it with us.
Well, thank you so much. I just never had an idea it would be anything like that. And I would never, ever even consider selling it. I mean, this is something I'll pass down to my grandchildren.
Current Appraised Value: $50,000 - $60,000 (Increased)
Katz explains, "This wonderful piece is so special that it would go against the general lower valuations placed on ordinary objects in today's economic climate."
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