Late 19th-Century Enamel Decorated Chinese Silver Box
I got the squash from a co-worker and friend whose parents had recently passed. And after the family had taken the items they wanted, she told us we could look and see if there was anything we were interested in, so I purchased... purchased the squash from her.
And how much did you pay for it?
I can't remember exactly. It was around $75. But it was for sure under a hundred dollars.
And how long ago was that?
Approximately two years.
Okay. Now, tell me, what makes you buy a squash?
(laughs) I like to have unique things in my house, so I thought, "Who wouldn't want a silver squash with butterflies and grasshoppers on it?"
We'll start off by looking at the mark on the bottom, which gives us a lot of information right away. The mark simply says the word "silver." Now this is, in fact, Chinese. And back in the latter part of the 19th century, most of the China trade that was in Hong Kong was probably not made so much for export. What's really unusual about it is all this wonderful enamel decoration that's put on it and these wonderful bugs between the lovely butterflies that we have here and this great grasshopper that's sitting on the top. We have these fruits. And the condition is excellent. Just a little ding or a dent at this end of it. It's made as a box, but really, I think, more for decorative appeal than anything else. I don't really think it was manufactured to serve a specific function. Now, Chinese silver has a very different content than what we would call sterling silver. They didn't mine their own silver. Basically what they did is used the coinage from other countries and melted it down. The problem with that is the coinage had all different qualities and purities of silver. The market for Chinese silver is very strong. At auction today, I would not be surprised at all with an estimate between $3,000 and $5,000.
Holy moly. (laughing)
Thank you for saying "Holy moly."
Wow. (laughing) Wow, wow. I never would've... never would have guessed.
Current Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000 (Increased)
Slavid notes, "With the current strength of the Chinese market, as well as silver's huge rise, at auction today [this new estimate] would be appropriate."
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.