1920 Arts & Crafts Desk and Lamp

Value (2009) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

This table came down through my family. As far as I know, my great-grandfather built it probably in the 19-teens, when my grandmother was born. My grandmother grew up with it and my dad grew up with it. I grew up being around it, playing underneath it when I was at my grandma's house and it was passed to me while it was crated during a move.

It's a wonderful piece, because it combines several interesting factors. It's Arts & Crafts, actually Prairie School. We can tell it's Prairie School when we look at the legs. It has clouds, it has arrows. And Prairie School was kind of this Arts & Crafts move to the center of the country. It hit the East Coast and through kind of an evolutionary process moved into the Midwest. So by the time it gets to Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana, it has this wonderful, wonderful Middle America feel to it. And this is what this has. But what makes your piece so great is not only does it have a Prairie School feel, but also sort of a folk art feel to it. And we don't often see that combination of Arts & Crafts-- which Prairie School was part of-- and folk art. Arts & Crafts tends to be a little stodgier, a little bit more confined. Folk art is wide open and full of whatever invention and sort of imagination people have. And these two pieces really combine those two elements very well. The other thing that makes this set so wonderful, I think, is not only is it folk art mixed with Arts & Crafts, but your great- grandfather did an incredibly wonderful job doing it. The construction's fantastic. I mean, he must have been wonderful. Was he in the business?

Yes, he owned a cabinet shop starting in 1929 that burned down in 1959.

The wood on this piece is quartersawn oak. It's a veneer that's very common, especially by the time we think this piece was made, about 1920. Now, the glass in this piece is sagging just a little bit. I can understand sagging. I'm sagging everywhere, believe me. I wish I was just sagging this much. You might take that in and get it looked at by a professional glass restorer. You certainly don't want that glass to cave in and lose this wonderful pattern on top. If you look at these little screws, probably maybe later in his career, you wouldn't see those little screws. They don't quite fit. But that kind of gives it a wonderful folk art feel. It's not quite perfect. It's not quite all bound together. From a value perspective, if you ever wanted to sell this-- and I know it's a family piece, so it's probably something that you wouldn't want to sell-- but in case you ever would, you might think about selling the two pieces separately. In today's market, at auction, I think this table would probably bring $6,000 to $9,000, and the lamp probably $4,000 to $6,000, somewhere in that vicinity.

Okay. Excellent.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2009)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)

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.