Meissen Nodder, ca. 1860

Value (2008) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

GUEST:
This piece belonged to my husband's great-aunt. And upon her death, my father-in-law and mother-in-law inherited it, and then, consequently, my mother-in-law has given it to my husband and myself. I believe it's Meissen. It's got the crossed sword emblem on the bottom. I'm not real sure when it was made. I haven't done my homework on it; so I just brought it here so I could get my answers.

APPRASIER: The easy way.

GUEST:
(laughs)

APPRAISER:
This is a very large-size nodder. They came in various sizes, and they actually came as a man and a woman. This is a Chinese gentleman, certainly... probably a Mandarin figure. Although this type of a character figure may seem offensive today, back in the 19th century, it wasn't looked at as offensive at all. In fact, throughout the 18th and 19th century, they were looked at in a very good light. And let's show them what they mean by a nodder. And then the hands each move like that. Very happy. These were made-- and this is just a belief-- to give you the first signs of an earthquake.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
At the slightest tremor, they would move. And if you look at the quality, it's really good. And what I like to look at is not only the enamel painting and the gilding, but the quality of the face itself, and the facial features are so human that even without any colors on it, any of the enamel decoration... I mean, the teeth, everything about it, is just absolutely amazing. Now, it's got a few little flaws to it. There's a couple of chips here and there...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
but this is considered to be, really, in wonderful condition.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Now, you had a question about the mark, and I need to take the head out before we look at the mark, just for safekeeping. And what you like to see not only the crossed swords mark, but these little pommels at the end. See the...

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
That's really good. That's, at this point, a first-period piece of Meissen, not a factory second in any way. So this was manufactured in the 19th century, and this inscribed number, this number 2884, is the model number. It has a break on the bottom here. That's of absolutely no consequence to the value of the piece.

GUEST:
Really? Okay.

APPRAISER:
It's really a wonderful example. Now, your question was, "Is it Meissen or not?"

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And there are many manufacturers of these nodders all throughout Germany. So Meissen did make them, and other manufacturers made them as well. And there are companies, because Meissen was the big boy, that tried to copy Meissen as best they could. Now, before you anticipate any further, yes, it is Meissen.

GUEST:
And you can tell by the mark?

APPRAISER:
I can tell by the quality of it first, and then by the mark second. The mark is dead-on right; the quality of it is exactly what one would expect. And value-wise, what do you believe it might be worth?

GUEST:
Oh, I would think... I don't have any idea. Maybe $1,000. I don't have a clue.

APPRAISER:
That'd be a good guess, but I'd be the first one in line at $1,000.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah. I think an auction estimate that I would expect it to realize would be somewhere in the $8,000 to $12,000 range.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh. Say that again.

APPRAISER:
$8,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness. I need to show more respect.

APPRAISER:
Absolutely.

GUEST:
So the dog barks at a nice piece of porcelain.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2008)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
Period
19th Century
Form
Automaton
Material
Enamel, Porcelain

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