English Della Robbia Vase, ca. 1900

Value (2008) | $2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction

I bought it in 1971 in Mackinaw City, from a fellow who had just brought it up from an estate sale in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. And I walked around the shop and it just kept talking to me and I was there probably for 45 minutes to an hour and I just decided I had to leave with it, even though it wasn't my style of antiques. I was more into primitives and that kind of thing. So, I brought it home, couldn't find any information about the marks, and I just sort of let it rest since 1971, I'm embarrassed to say.

This is a really beautiful example of English Della Robbia.

Della Robbia?

The original Della Robbias were Italian and you may know them for their beautiful faience around Florence.

Absolutely, I've been there.

You can see here, "DR" for Della Robbia. This English company was put together by two gentlemen, Harold Rathbone and Conrad Dressler. The company was in business between about 1894 and 1906.


Rathbone had been a pupil of Ford Maddox Brown, which is a name that you may or may not know from the early days of the English Arts and Crafts movement. And his partner Dressler had worked with William Morris.

Oh, yeah.

So he had worked with the very best designers, doing the very best work. So they got together and in Birkenhead, in England, made this pottery, called it Della Robbia. And the look of the Arts and Crafts movement does look back to the Italian Renaissance-- in some way, it is Pre-Raphaelite. It is ecclesiastical. It's Gothic. This is low-fired earthenware Low-fired, okay. and is covered in a very pale glaze. And that pale glaze then will let any other subsequent glaze that you put over it... Glow through or shine through?


And get very bright. It certainly has that look. So it has a loosely Della Robbia look to it. This is a particularly gorgeous example. It's very large. It's very nicely done. There's a small chip here at the base, which seems to have been sort of put back in the firing, because there is glaze around it. The value today of this beautiful piece is in the $2,000 to $3,000 range at auction.


Wonderful. Wonderful. It was a great $75 investment, then.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2008)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 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.