Dieppe Ivory Carving, ca. 1880

Value (2010) | $3,000 Retail$4,000 Retail

It was something that my father had acquired back in the early '70s from a woman, actually... she was late on her rent. And, in trade, she says, "I will give you this instead." And nobody knew the value of it or what it was. And he brought it home and I saw it and my mother quickly put it away in the cabinet. But I always said to her, one day I would love to have this. And so when I got married, she quietly gave it to me.

And did you take it out when it was at your mother's house and look at it?

Oh, yeah, I would constantly go up to the china cabinet, open it up, stare at it for a while, and she'd look at me and say, "No, no-- no touching."

No touching?

No touching.

Well, what you have is an ivory piece and it was made in northern France in a town called Dieppe. It's on the north coast, it's a resort area. It was a major port in France, and one of the things they imported was African ivory. And they made these carvings starting in the early part of the Renaissance, and this continued up into the 19th century. And your piece is probably from the 1870s or the 1880s.

Oh, wow, okay.

It's this wonderful Renaissance lady with this very elaborate costume. And, as you know, when you open it up here below... The best part.


You have these little scenes. It's signed here-- Torqualo Tasso, 1544, and he was a very, very famous poet in Italy. And he was born in 1544. On the sides here, you see this standing figure of Beatrice and this standing figure here of Dante. And Dante, of course, was the most famous Italian poet of the Middle Ages.


So I think this is paying homage to the tradition of Italian poetry.

And what would people use something like this for?

Dieppe was a big tourist area, and they made these as tourist items. It's in very good shape for ivory. Ivory does respond to changes in temperature and humidity, and sometimes large cracks appear. They're almost never signed. In fact, there's a museum in Dieppe of these kinds of carving, and I think in the entire museum there are only one or two that are signed. In a shop, this would probably be about $3,000 or $4,000.

Wow. Wow, really?


Wow, that's nice.

Appraisal Details

Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, NY
Appraised value (2010)
$3,000 Retail$4,000 Retail
San Diego, CA (June 12, 2010)
19th Century

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