Micromosaic & Pietra Dura Table, ca. 1860

Value (2011) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
I inherited it from an aunt whose father-in-law was an estate dealer in Rochester, New York. I was the only one in my generation, so I inherited everything that my aunt owned. I have it sitting in my home, and the grandchildren put their drinks on it, and I know all that stuff you say...

APPRAISER:
Great, great. The grandkids put their drinks on it. Well, tell me, what do you think the top is?

GUEST:
My husband says it's slate. I would have thought it was some kind of marble or something on top of it.

APPRAISER:
What do you make about the scene in the middle?

GUEST:
I really don't know. It looks Italian to me, which was surprising, since I thought it came from upstate New York.

APPRAISER:
Well, you're right. It is an Italian scene. There's a long tradition in the 19th century and earlier of wealthy people traveling to Europe, especially Italy, on grand tours, where they would go and see the sights of Rome and Florence, and they would bring things back with them. The top probably came with someone coming back from a grand tour. The stand for it is rosewood, which is a very high-quality wood. But the form of it and the way the carving is done says to me that it was probably done in Boston. So I think the table was made to fit the top in Boston, probably in the 1850s or '60s.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
The scene on here, this is St. Peter's Square in the Vatican in Rome. And there are lots of things going on with the top of this table. It makes for a really exciting visual statement. The outside of this is called pietra dura, which in Italian means "hard stone." There are all different kinds of marble here. You see the rose-colored rings?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
That's scagliola, which is actually painted on, but they grind up marble to use as pigment and paint it on there. The tiny micromosaic here, every little piece of that is a tiny piece of glass. This kind of decoration was being made in the Vatican workshops, which are still going today. Micromosaics have also been made in Florence and other places. But they painstakingly put all of that together. The roots of this come from ancient Rome and ancient cultures where... those great mosaic floors and that sort of thing. I would say a table like this at auction would probably have, an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
So if your grandkids are putting their drinks on it, it is marble, so I don't think they'll hurt it too much. But don't let them knock it over. It really is a beautiful example of a grand tour survival here in America.

GUEST:
Oh, well, thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Brunk Auctions
Asheville, North Carolina
Appraised value (2011)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Atlanta, GA (August 06, 2011)
Period
19th Century
Form
Table
Material
Glass, Rosewood, Wood

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.