Three Black Forest Carved Plaques
They were given to me by my grandmother. She passed on several years ago. She was pretty sharp to the end, but she couldn't remember all the details. She seemed to think that they were in the family for a long time. She used to marvel at them when she was very young; that there were more of them and she doesn't know how they got split up or where, but she passed these on to me. Most she could give me was that they originated from Mediterranean Europe, which is where the family is from. And she really couldn't give me much more than that.
Your family must have traveled around Europe, because these are what we call Black Forest carvings. And Black Forest items typically come from the Germany area. These pieces date from the late 19th to the early 20th century. I would bet that these are probably 1880s. And what makes these so interesting is that usually you see animal figures highly decorated. You rarely see plaques. When you do see plaques, you never see the amount of detail that you see in these plaques. You see a complete interior scene here with a gentleman with the umbrella. You see the three-dimensional bottles on the background. You see the kegs. The workmanship is phenomenal. This particular piece, to me...
That's my favorite one.
...is probably one of the nicest Black Forest plaques I've ever seen.
Generally, when you see the plaques, you don't see this quality and this depth of carving. And when you look at this, you see not only all of these trees and how well they're carved. But one of the things that I get a kick out of is you have this gentleman who's driving his pigs to market. And this particular plaque, early 19th century. There were a great number of paintings, workmanship that was done that was related to what they call a “happy monk.” And the happy monk generally had, shall I say, a grog in his hand. And here you see not only the grog in his hand, but you see what appears to be a partial chicken on a plate. He's down here with all this decoration of the keg, the broom in the corner, this raised panel decoration in the back. It's absolutely wonderful. These are truly some of the best Black Forest items I've ever seen so far as plaques with the carving and workmanship. With the Black Forest, generally they're done in walnut. And these are done in a fruitwood, which is rather unusual. If I had to value these individually at a retail level, the two plaques on the ends, you probably would be somewhere in the $300 to $400 range. This center plaque, I probably would value more in the $600 to $700 range.
I mean, you're looking at, conservatively, $1,000 to $1,500 for the whole set of three.
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