Folk Miniature Portrait, ca. 1830

Value (2007) | $12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
I found this little treasure in Brewster, Massachusetts, at an antique shop in the early 1950s, when I used to live down at Cape Cod. And it just intrigued me, and couldn't resist it. So I went back after looking at it once and bought it.

APPRAISER:
Now, what did you pay for it then?

GUEST:
I think it was about $150 to $175.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
I did know it was painted on ivory, and that it was an unusually good portrait of a baby. And I thought it might be something from the late 19th century.

APPRAISER:
Miniature portraits are not all created equal.

GUEST:
I'm sure.

APPRAISER:
And when it comes to portraits, the most desirable ones usually are of children.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Attractive children. It's nice to have them by a known artist. Let's talk a little bit about the things that I think make this special. The red dress, petticoat.

GUEST Well, a little petticoat.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
And one bare foot and one shoe foot.

APPRAISER:
You know the thing that got me, though? It was the look in the baby's eyes.

GUEST:
Do you know why the baby has that look? That in a hankerchief is a rock candy and it's been moisturized, and the baby can suck on it, and that makes him calm down. That's one of the things that people in the 19th century used to use for calming their babies.

APPRAISER:
Wow, I wonder if that would work now.

GUEST:
I don't know. I've never tried it.

APPRAISER:
Well, I feel pretty comfortable that it's probably New England. And when it comes to the artist, it would take some very specialized research to figure that out. And it's such a good thing that I would actually hire an independent scholar and have them do the description and the opinion. This portrait I would date before 1850 and it's probably after 1825. This case is leather with mother-of-pearl and gilt embossing. And that's probably 25 years or so later than when the portrait was actually painted. We talked about it a lot, and all of us felt very comfortable that this would be worth retail $12,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
You are fooling me. You wouldn't pull my leg, would you?

APPRAISER:
I wouldn't put you on TV and pull your leg.

GUEST:
No? Well, that's amazing. It's really made me feel better about my own taste.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2007)
$12,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Event
Spokane, WA (August 04, 2007)
Period
19th Century
Material
Leather, Paint
December 19, 2011: We contacted appraiser Ken Farmer for an updated appraisal of this object in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $12,000 - $15,000 (Unchanged)

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