German Walnut Desk & Bookcase, ca. 1750

Value (2008) | $15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

GUEST:
It was my great-grandparents', and then they had a family bid on it. My grandmother bid high.

APPRAISER:
I see.

GUEST:
She got it. Then it went to my mother.

APPRAISER:
And then she brought it over here to Amer...

GUEST:
Brought it over, and then it was mine.

APPRAISER:
Now, where-where did they live?

GUEST:
In, uh, Switzerland. They say that it came from a castle.

APPRAISER:
Castle?

GUEST:
And there were two of them. And this one had more inlay than the others. They figured it was built in about 1700 or 1730 in Bavaria or someplace. It wasn't Switzerland. It was a castle someplace else.

APPRAISER:
Well, what you've brought in here is a very fine and beautifully constructed baroque, German, marquetry inlaid walnut bookcase with drawers. And the inlay is meticulous. Satinwood vases with flowers. Original brasses. Incredible use of, uh, contrasting woods and book matching. Basket of flowers on this lid. It's just gorgeous, and I love the base. Look at that. It's just very sculptural. And it's probably about 1750. Now, there's a couple of secret drawers in here.

GUEST:
Six.

APPRAISER:
You know where some of them are, right?

GUEST:
I think, I think.

APPRAISER:
Is there one on that side?

GUEST:
Okay. I'm gonna reach in.

APPRAISER:
May I help you?

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
I'm just gonna pull this out. And this is the original patina finish. Look at that. That shellac probably is the original, because it's been hidden in there all these years.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
What do you think would've been kept in that secret drawer?

GUEST:
I don't know there, but up there, they kept the jewels, and it's empty. (chuckles)

APPRAISER:
There's more up there. I-I'm gonna look up there, because this is pretty well hidden. Let me put this back. I've got that one in. There's one on the same side as the other. There's one on, one on this side.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
If we open this cabinet drawer, take out this drawer...

GUEST:
And the next drawer.

APPRAISER:
...and take out this drawer and pull out this center section.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
There's two drawers in there. Put these down right here. There is a little secret drawer right there.

GUEST:
And one on the other side.

APPRAISER:
And one on the other side. And that one would've held probably the family...

GUEST:
That was the jewels.

APPRAISER:
But a burglar would never find that, I don't think.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
That's a-- I mean, t-took me awhile to find it, right?

GUEST:
Right. (both laugh)

APPRAISER:
But this is great. So, um, I'm gonna put these drawers back in. Now, we open this lid. You brought a letter...

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
...that talks about the Titanic. This was written by your mother.

GUEST:
By my mother.

APPRAISER:
And it's, "Because our tickets had been for the nice new ship named Titanic." Tell me about that story in this letter, please.

GUEST:
My mother was coming to United States to be married. She was engaged.

APPRAISER:
Okay, and this is your mother right here; is this her?

GUEST:
Right, that's my mother.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And, uh, she had all the trunks all sent to the shipping yard with her tickets for the Titanic.

APPRAISER:
Bought the tickets for the Titanic.

GUEST:
And this was being sold.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
And the man that was coming to buy it died of a heart attack. So, she decided to bring it with her. So, she had to cancel her Titanic tickets, and she came in August instead of April. Mother said it's a good luck...

APPRAISER:
It's a good luck piece, absolutely. Now, you mentioned that this might be in a castle at one point, right?

GUEST:
They-- that's what they-they always told us.

APPRAISER:
Well, actually, this is the type of piece that may have been in a castle in the 18th century. It has the type of quality and presence and size to fit into a-a great room. Because of the beautiful inlay, because it's 18th century, it's German, it's baroque, and the incredible quality of the workmanship, I'd put an auction estimate right in the range of $15,000 to $25,000.

GUEST:
That it? Uh-huh. All right.

APPRAISER:
Now, were you surprised at the value?

GUEST:
No, actually, I thought might be even more.

APPRAISER:
Okay. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Leslie Keno Art Advisory
Waccabuc, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$15,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Event
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
Form
Bookcase, Desk
Material
Brass, Walnut

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