Chippendale Walnut Tall Chest, ca. 1790

Value (2008) | $30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

My mother said that it had been in my father's family many, many, many years.

And where was your, uh, father's family from?

My father's family was from Connecticut. I don't know how old it is, but we think my great-great-great-great- great-great-grandfather was Roger Sherman, who was one of the framers of the Declaration of Independence. So, I don't know if it's that old. That's what I'm hoping you will tell me.

From Connecticut?

Yes, yes.

And, uh, is anybody in your family from Pennsylvania or from Philadelphia?

Well, my mother's family is all from the Philadelphia area,


but she said that this had been in my father's family, but my son-in-law, Tommy, said that it was a Pennsylvania... uh, a Chester County chest, maybe, is what he said.

Okay. Well, you should always listen to your son-in-law. I'll tell you a little bit about the piece. It is, in fact, a piece of furniture that we call a Chippendale tall chest and drawers. And it has all the characteristics of an 18th century Pennsylvania-made piece. It has these five drawers at the top, and then these graduated four drawers. They have these lemon-shaped pins that go through the divider. It has the tulip inlay on this drawer here. It's made in black walnut, which was the wood of choice in Pennsylvania. And it's made so vigorously and strong that the Pennsylvania Germans that made these pieces... they had emigrated into America, and they made tall chests like this to last. And what I think is so interesting... I'm just going to pull this out, and I'll show you there's a little secret Quaker lock here, which I think you probably know about. I do know about that. And out comes that drawer. And the secondary wood is made of poplar. And look at these big, thick drawer sides. This was made to last. And... I know it's very heavy. (chuckling) And it's a... it's a monumental piece. And it's just such a... a pleasure to see it. You have your crossbanded whitewood here. And then, if you look at the feet, these gorgeous, great big feet with the dovetailed construction on the corners. That is the way the Pennsylvania Germans made their furniture. Condition matters when you look at furniture, and in this case, the hardware is replaced. They are Colonial Revival, is what we call them. They were probably put on about 100 years ago. Do you have any idea what it might be worth?

Well, I do know that... an antique dealer here offered Mother... I think it was $27,000 back in 19... like, late '50s, early '60s, somewhere in there. Well, that's a lot of money, $27,000.

Today, it's probably worth at least $30,000 to $50,000 at auction.

Is it really? Well, what she said was, "Keep it in the family."

Appraisal Details

New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Chattanooga, TN (July 19, 2008)

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.