German "Four Seasons" Porcelain Figurines, ca. 1865
I rescued them when the family was cleaning out my husband's grandmother's place. Nobody wanted them. I had never seen them before, but they called and said they know they're old, and so I said I will take them and care for them. What I do know is that my husband's great-grandfather bought them at an antique store in Illinois for his wife. It sounds like a housewarming gift sometime in the '40s.
And do you know what they depict?
The family's always called them the four seasons.
The one next to you is spring, and the one following that is summer. The next one is fall and we see she's got wheat in her hair and in her hands. And then the last one is obviously winter. She's wearing more clothes. We've got ice dripping out of her jar. The quality is so great. The modeling on these is remarkable. Her drapery is so clearly and crisply modeled. Also on this other one, all the little flowers in the dress are painted. And we can see those in the front and the detailing here over on the cornucopia is really, really nice. We're certain that they're German because the way they're made. They're very much in the Meissen style, but they are definitely not copies of anything that Meissen ever made. Meissen is the top German company. They set a precedent of really high quality, and most of the other people who were working in their style just didn't live up to the quality. These figures are made out of hard paste porcelain. Hard paste is an attribute of German porcelain. They pretty much only made hard paste. We're fairly certain that these date somewhere between about 1850 and 1880. Oh, wow. So they do have some very nice age. We have a fairly clean break here on this wrist, but it's glued back together fairly well. And since it's in a kind of unseen spot, it doesn't affect the value that much.
So, taking into consideration the age, the quality, the condition, which is almost perfect, our estimate that these would have a retail value between $1,500 and $2,000.
If we did additional research, we might figure out who made them and that might help the value a little bit.
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.