1893 Tiffany Columbian Exhibition Piece

Value (2009) | $50,000 Auction$100,000 Auction

GUEST:
I got it from my uncle's aunt. She lived in Chicago. Okay. That's about all I know about it.

APPRAISER:
Well, you know a little more. You know who made it.

GUEST:
Yeah, it's on the bottom.

APPRAISER:
Yes, and what does it say?

GUEST:
Tiffany and Company.

APPRAISER:
And what else does it say?

GUEST:
Sterling silver, and the letter "T" and some numbers.

APPRAISER:
Well, the letter "T" means it was made between 1891 and 1902, when Charles Tiffany was in charge of the production. The first number is the pattern number, and the second is the order number for the piece. It's very unusual, and not only is it sterling, but it has enamel on it-- beautiful enamel decoration. It's almost over the top, I have to admit that. And then all of the stones are actually American stones. They're American turquoise...

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
...and various other stones, plus the enameling. And, as I said, with the sterling mark. Now, you have no idea where she got it?

GUEST:
None.

APPRAISER:
But she lived in Chicago.

GUEST:
She lived in Chicago, right downtown, near the Midway Plaisance, which was part of the site of the Columbian Exposition. So I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not, but...

APPRAISER:
Now, when was the Columbian Exposition?

GUEST:
1893, I believe?

APPRAISER:
Okay. Well, I think you've got a winner here. This was made for the Columbian Exposition.

GUEST:
It was?! Really?

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
Oh, my God.

APPRAISER:
By Tiffany. And it is unique. When you first came in, what did you tell me when you took it out of the bag?

GUEST:
I said, "It's ugly."

APPRIASER: Well, and I agreed with you. But boy, the more I looked at it, the... I couldn't believe how wonderful it was, with all of these stones, and then to check the mark and everything. It is absolutely spectacular. And when you turn it over, down here at the very bottom of the mark...

GUEST:
Yeah?

APPRAISER:
There is a globe with a "T" superimposed on it.

GUEST:
I saw the "T."

APPRAISER:
And a little tiny line in the middle that says "Tiffany." And that was the exhibition signature...

GUEST:
Oh, my God.

APPRAISER:
...for pieces in the World's Fair. So your great-aunt must have had some very special friend that gave it to her...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRISER:...or one of her husbands, maybe? (laughing):

GUEST:
Maybe.

APPRAISER:
Okay, well... There were several, yes?

GUEST:
There were several.

APPRAISER:
Well, she must have done something right to get this piece. Now, do you have any idea what it's worth?

GUEST:
Well, just because it's sterling, maybe $15,000?

APPRAISER:
Well, if it was sterling, that's what it would be worth. But with all the enameling and everything else, an auction value on this piece in today's market, which is a little conservative, I would say $50,000 to $100,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my... You're kidding.

APPRASISER: No. Do you still think it's ugly? (laughing):

GUEST:
Yes. Excuse me? How much?

APPRAISER:
$50,000 to $100,000. (laughing and crying):

GUEST:
Okay. But it's still ugly. (both laughing)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Northeast Auctions
Portsmouth, NH
Appraised value (2009)
$50,000 Auction$100,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Form
Vase
Material
Enamel, Silver, Turquoise

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