Fake Schrank Pennsylvania Cabinet

Value (2009) | $3,000 Auction

GUEST:
I purchased this at an auction in Milwaukee. I'm thinking it might be about 1800, 1820, in there. A dealer was selling her personal collection. And so it was an estate sale. She had items from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, etc.

APPRAISER:
And what did they say when they sold it? What did the tag say?

GUEST:
Well, it said "Schrank" on it. "Pennsylvania," I think it said, and "1800," I believe.

APPRAISER:
Okay. So, what did you have to give for it?

GUEST:
I paid $3,000 for it.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
It's very heavy, so when I got it home, I just sort of plunked it in the dining room and tried to study it the best way that I could. And I think there might be some replacements and things, but I'm really not sure. And I think the feet might be replaced. I'm not sure it's a complete piece.

APPRAISER:
Okay, it is a Schrank form, more in the mid to third and fourth quarter of the 18th century rather than 1800.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
There's a lot of things that make me look very carefully at a piece, especially when it's at a dealer's estate sale. Because dealers only take two kinds of things home...

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The best or their mistakes. You got a guess where we are?

GUEST:
Mistake?

APPRAISER:
I hate to say it, but I think you're right.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And let me walk you through some of the things that are pretty glaring from my standpoint. An arch door is more valuable than a regular rectangular door, so when I see an arch door, I want to make sure it's constructed like it should be. Now look at this line here. It cuts exactly where the panel would fit if the door stile, which is here, would go up.

GUEST:
Oh, sure.

GUEST:
Secondly, when I look at the panels, the way they're cut, on your side that's a two-piece panel. In the 18th century, they had no problem getting a walnut board that would cover that distance. I'm immediately suspicious of the arch door. When I see that and then I see this distance up here that's so tight to the cornice, there should be more space there. I think what they had was a relatively simple, small piece, and then they started trying to make it more marketable. And so when you look here, you see these nail holes, you can see them on your side, you can see them in the center. They're perfect modern nail holes. Even if they're pegs, they didn't drill round pegs at the time. And if they were going to do it here, there's a couple other ways they might have attached this rather than just nailing it or pegging it in.

GUEST:
Sure.

APPRAISER:
So, that makes me worry, okay. And then, to really make life difficult, the feet are definitely completely new. And if you look at the brasses, they're spaced very, very wide.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And I'd expect them on a period piece to be just a little tighter in.

GUEST:
Ah, sure.

APPRAISER:
So that makes me worry again. It is a made-up piece. I'd love to tell you otherwise.

GUEST:
No, that's fine, that's fine.

APPRAISER:
And I'm really glad that you did the research and you did your homework, and I think your instincts were leading you in the right direction. I think $3,000 at auction, if it came up again at auction, I would expect it to bring about the same. It would sell as a decorative piece made of some period elements.

GUEST:
Wonderful.

APPRAISER:
Well, thanks for being a good sport about it.

GUEST:
Thank you, yes, thank you very much.

APPRAISER:
It's a beastly piece to move, I'll tell you that.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
Baltimore, MD
Appraised value (2009)
$3,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Form
Cabinet
Material
Wood

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