Alfred Daguet Letter Box, ca. 1910

Value (2009) | $12,000 Auction

GUEST:
I bought it about 30 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, and at that time the dealer told me it was Celtic Revival.

APPRAISER:
Do you know who it's made by?

GUEST:
No. I thought it might be English. Celtic Revival suggests English, Scottish or Irish.

APPRAISER:
Well, actually, it's French.

GUEST:
Oh, it is? Oh.

APPRAISER:
I'll point out the marks here. The maker is Alfred Daguet, and he was a French Art Nouveau metal worker. And he's interesting. He's known for making a lot of jewel boxes and desk boxes, clocks, album covers. And what's interesting is he worked above the shop of Siegfried Bing, who was the main retailer proponent of the Art Nouveau movement in France, in Paris, at the turn of the 20th century. His works were sold alongside those of Louis Comfort Tiffany and William Morris and all of the other big names of that time period. This box itself is probably a little bit later; it's probably 1905, 1910, and the decoration is sort of this stylized design. It's copper and brass with this sort of glass cabochons and enamel, but I think it's a little more in a Russian Revival.

GUEST:
Oh, it is? Okay.

APPRAISER:
The Russian style. And it's interesting, I think the Russian ballet were performing in Paris at that time period and it's likely that he sought inspiration from that. It has very much of a sturdy form, but wonderful decoration with the enamel, these conjoined birds. What's interesting about it is there aren't any materials that were really all that costly. There was a modest cost for the copper and the brass and the glass and the enameling, but all together it becomes a very beautiful and very rich-looking piece. And if we look inside, do you have an idea what it was used for?

GUEST:
I guess a jewelry box; that's the only thing I could think of.

APPRAISER:
It has this tooled leather lining. I think it may have actually been for letters. So it would have been a desk box. So what did you pay for it at the time that you bought it?

GUEST:
$250.

APPRAISER:
There's not a really large body of his work available for comparable, but I did find a number. Most of the boxes were a bit smaller and they didn't have feet. I did find one identical example that did sell at auction and it sold very well. It sold for $12,000.

GUEST:
Is that right? Oh, my goodness. I can't believe that. That's staggering.

APPRAISER:
It's a beautiful piece and it's...

GUEST:
I know it is, but I didn't know it was that beautiful. (laughing) Well, I'm just stunned. If I don't talk for a while, that's the reason.

APPRAISER:
(laughs) Okay.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Skinner, Inc.
Appraised value (2009)
$12,000 Auction
Event
Denver, CO (July 25, 2009)
Form
Box

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