Tiffany Studios Inkwell, ca. 1905

Value (2010) | $5,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
It was passed down. My grandmother gave it to me last year after my grandfather passed away. It sat on his desk for as long as I can remember.

APPRAISER:
Do you remember where he got it? Any... did you ever talk to him about it, or...

GUEST:
No, I wasn't old enough to really probably understand it at the time. The only thing I remember is the color of it, that green. I've remembered it since I could... you know, since I could walk, when we visited their house.

APPRAISER:
It is really dramatic looking. The inkwell is by Tiffany Studios. It's actually stamped on the bottom, "Tiffany Studios, New York." And as you know, they were a very famous maker of bronze and metalwork, and Tiffany lamps, Tiffany glass. They were founded in New York City. It was run by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who was the son of the man who started Tiffany & Company, the jewelry company. And one of the things they produced were desk set items, very popular from the turn of the century until the 1920s. They made, oh, maybe 20, 30 different patterns. You have an inkwell. Other pieces in the set could be a letter rack, a blotter, pen tray, boxes, lamps, calendar, letter scales, thermometers, anything that would be on a gentleman's desk. It was probably made between 1900 and 1910. What's unusual about this is the glass. It's Tiffany glass. And we call this blown out.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So you have this latticework that's cut out, and they actually blow the glass through this so the glass protrudes. Inside you have the inkwell. This is not Tiffany glass. This is a standard replacement. But it's really interesting, and it's quite rare. It has some condition issues here in this green discoloration. And you see these little white dots?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
You know what that's from?

GUEST:
I have no idea.

APPRAISER:
These little white dots is when this piece was on the desk and they were painting the wall behind it with a roller.

GUEST:
Really? Really?

APPRAISER:
Right. And the little specks of white paint come off. You see it there?

GUEST:
See, I thought it was just another type of corrosion or...

APPRAISER:
Right, no, no, they're little white specks of paint. But it's really in nice shape. We see lots of desk set pieces on the Roadshow, but we really never see these blown out pieces. This is nice in this really rich green. They also made it in a red, sort of a coral-y red color.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
I wouldn't be concerned about this, and I wouldn't really be concerned about these little flecks of paint. The glass is in excellent shape; sometimes the glass can be cracked. In a retail setting, at a gallery or a shop specializing in Tiffany works, this would be about $5,000.

GUEST:
Really? Wow. Wow, that's... I had no idea.

APPRAISER:
That's great.

GUEST:
That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, NY
Appraised value (2010)
$5,000 Retail
Event
Biloxi, MS (July 24, 2010)
Period
20th Century
Form
Ink Well
Material
Glass, Metal

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.