1811 American Silk-on-Silk Embroidery

Value (2013) | $30,000 Insurance$40,000 Insurance

It's always been in the family. It's always hung over the buffet. But it came in my possession after my mother died. When we were children, it had on the bottom letters in black and gold painted on the glass, "1811, L, G, and SK." Lady Grey is the focal point of this, and Sarah Kenton was my great-great-great-grandmother who did it in 1811 when she was pregnant with, I think, her first child.

Do you know where she lived at the time?

It was either Philadelphia or vicinity, or New Orleans, one or the other.

So eventually she ended up in New Orleans.

Yes. Do you know why it's no longer framed the way it was?

You said it used to have a reverse-painted title on the bottom, probably an ÈglomisÈ.

Well, in about the '60s sometime, my mother and father had a fire in the house and the glass at the bottom cracked. The frame is the same as it's always been in.

It's not the original frame. This frame is later. And it's unfortunate that you lost the original glass. Someone has done some restoration, because if you look, in some of these areas, especially like right in here, you can see there's paint on top of the stitchery. So we know that probably when the fire occurred, you had to do a little bit of restoration to this picture. This is a silk-on-silk embroidery, and it's very typical of what we would expect to see in the time period that you mentioned, in 1811. There were artists who would paint most of the background, particularly the faces, where you see so much detail, and then either a young woman or a young girl, in this case a young woman, would spend time doing all the stitchery. All these wrinkled-looking places are silk chenille, and then the smoother places are just silk. But it's done on a silk background. When I first looked at this, my initial reaction was that it was English, and that's probably because it's more than likely taken from a print source that's an English print. If we had the time, we could probably find that print. It has several things going for it. Number one, it's just absolutely wonderful condition for something that was done that early. The second thing is it's unusually large. The third thing is the fact that it's not a religious scene. Religious scenes tend not to go for quite as much money as a scene like this would go for. The stretcher is pine, it's a white pine. It's much more typical of what you would have found in the United States than you would have found in England. So we comfortably believe that it is more than likely from Philadelphia. Because it's American, it's in great condition, great subject matter, I would insure it probably between $40,000 and $50,000.

Great Scott!

Thank you so much for bringing this in. This was a real treat to get to see.

Thank you for your expertise. Between $40,000 and $50,000?


Good Lord.

Appraisal Details

Szescila Appraisal Service
Houston, TX
Update (2013)
$30,000 Insurance$40,000 Insurance
Appraised value (2010)
$40,000 Insurance$50,000 Insurance
Biloxi, MS (July 24, 2010)
November 18, 2013: We contacted appraiser Beth Szescila for an updated appraisal in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $30,000 - $40,000 (Decreased)

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.