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

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.