Austrian Enamel & Ebonized Cabinet, ca. 1900

Value (2009) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

My understanding is it's probably a couple hundred years old. My great-uncle was an antique dealer, and he got it in the '50s. I've actually got a receipt from '53, when he bought it, and he bought it right here in Denver. I don't know what kind of condition it was in when he got it. It's been moved basically from his house, I think, to a shop that my brother had. And he's the one that inherited it from him. And then to my house, because he didn't want to be, I guess, pressured into selling it, because he wanted to keep it. And I've had it for about 15 years in my possession.

Well, the bad news, obviously, is that it is in pieces. It's kind of a kit. But the good news is that as we go through some of these things, you can see that many of the pieces are intact. For instance, these brackets which you can see on the front legs, they fit right around on the sides here. And then if we go inside you can see that this panel fits nicely right in here. Now, this is a "wow" piece. I mean, it just knocks your socks off. It's so bright. There is wonderful, wonderful enamel work all over this piece. You thought it was about 200 years old.

You know, I'm just guessing. Maybe the 1700s. The receipt that I have says it's Limoges.

Well, I would suggest that it's an Austrian piece. And it was made in the late 19th, early 20th century. I want to show you one thing on one of these drawers. Just check out the base of the drawer. You can see where all of the secondary wood, which is the wood we refer to that you can't see on a piece, secondary wood is all painted black. And it's made it to look a little older than we think. Can you help me put this back in so I can get it in here? Did you notice the way we struggled a little with it? The drawer action is not really a great action. The piece is a little bit wobbly. The cabinetwork in it is not that superb. It's an earmark of Austrian furniture at the turn of the last century. They were making these pieces around Vienna, and it was all about the plaques. And the plaques are all done not in Limoges, but probably in Austria. It was a piece that was probably never even meant to be used. It just was to sit grandly in your home, impress people. Hence all of this ormolu mounting with cast figural groups. The plaques are done all with mythological scenes. They're all hand-painted. So there's lots of stories to tell on this piece. It is really a wonderful, wonderful item. In tough condition, but not beyond repair. Any idea of its value?

Well, I mean, since you've educated me about that, I'd say no. I mean, I know I think my uncle paid... I think it was about $850 in 1953.

At auction I would probably estimate this piece in the $20,000 to $30,000 range. When folks come to auction they're expecting to find things in an as-is condition, and many collectors like to do the restorations themselves. They don't like to buy a piece that's already been restored. So if you put $10,000 of restoration work in this, would you necessarily get $10,000 back? Hard to say, hard to say.

Well, thank you.

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Denver, CO (July 25, 2009)
Enamel, Wood

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