Dirk Van Erp Lamp, ca. 1910

Value (2007) | $40,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
So you said you bought this piece with your mother?

GUEST:
Yes, we went to an auction in Eastern Kentucky, and for some reason she really liked it, so she bought it at the auction. Probably 20, 25 years ago.

APPRAISER:
And you said you paid how much for this?

GUEST:
About-- I think it was about $100 or $150. I do know it's made by Dirk Van Erp...

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh.

GUEST:
...but I don't know anything about the history of him or where he's from or-- I don't know anything about the lamp.

APPRAISER:
Dirk Van Erp was a San Francisco Bay Area metalsmith. He defined what coppersmithing was for the Arts and Crafts movement in America. He had many people who followed in his wake, but this fabulous wrought copper mica schist lamp was what Dirk Van Erp was known to have created and popularized. This is an early version of a Van Erp lamp. He made them for a number of years, starting at around 1908. His son was still making them into the '30s and '40s, from what I'm told. There's several ways we know this is an earlier lamp. Number one, the structural detailing. You see the way these straps or struts come up to the top...

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
...and then they're riveted into place?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
On a later lamp, this strut would be on the outside on the bottom and on the inside at the top.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
So you wouldn't have this detail work. It would be a lot faster and a lot easier to make. These darker patinas tend to be on earlier lamps, too. This is almost a black patination. Now, there are some later lamps with darker patinas, but by and large, when you have a patina this dark on a Van Erp lamp, it's an earlier version. Third, these are panels of mica schist that have been curved. This orange color that we're seeing right here?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
This is typical of an earlier Van Erp shade. This is what we look for.

GUEST:
The orange.

APPRAISER:
Deep chocolate brown and kind of an orange-y mica. I'm gonna pop the shade here and show you this from the inside. These clips that we're seeing here-- if this mica had been replaced, a lot of these clips would have been bent back. They're just little strips of copper holding it in place. That's how I know this mica's all original to the piece, because those copper strips are bent once by Van Erp when this was made around 1910.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
Another thing I wanted to show is this gentle curve to the arms that we're seeing here.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
That's typical of an earlier lamp. The later ones tended to have straight arms rather than curved light. These are the original sockets without the original pulls-- the original pulls would have had little acorns at the bottom-- but that's okay. We're happy with the original sockets. Originality is a big thing. Number one, the original mica, and number two, the original patina. Whatever this lamp is worth, it'd be worth one-fifth of that if these things had been altered. One more thing I want to show is that underneath it, we have... the Van Erp mark.

GUEST:
The marking.

APPRAISER:
We know it's early 'cause this mark is the windmill with Dirk Van Erp, and around that mark is a rectangular box that's completely closed. That dates to before 1912.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
If the box had been open at all, it'd be a later mark and a later lamp and not as good.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
So these are all the attributes that denote this as an early Van Erp lamp. What determines the value, in addition to originality and the beauty of it, is the scarcity of the form. I've never seen this Van Erp lamp before, and I've probably seen-- I've seen hundreds of these things.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
I've never seen this form before. Van Erp was the ultimate in coppersmithing.

GUEST:
Oh...

APPRAISER:
This lamp is a tribute and a symbol of the heights to which he took that craft. I'm going to give you an auction estimate. What it sells for at auction comes down to what two or three people decide they want to pay that day. If I was going to put this at auction, I would estimate it for about between $40,000 and $50,000. And I got to tell you, because it's such a rare lamp, it could go for double, triple that.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
You just don't know what they're going to bring. This is such a rare lamp, it's anybody's guess.

GUEST:
Oh, that's fabulous.

APPRAISER:
Thank you so much. It's great to see it.

GUEST:
Thank you so much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2007)
$40,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Event
Louisville, KY (July 28, 2007)
Form
Lamp
Material
Copper, Metal

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.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.