Polia Pillin Paintings & Plate

Value (2011) | $9,200 Auction$13,700 Auction

Polia was a friend of my mother, stepfather and my father. They met in Chicago, and after she left Chicago, she went to L.A. and I lost contact with her other than one visit. But they were long-time friends and my father used to be in contact with her all the time down in L.A.

We see a lot of her pottery. That comes up on the market a lot, and that is what made Polia Pillin famous, pieces such as these, which very often have the same type of decoration on them-- they have lots of ladies and lots of horses. You know, she was from Poland and probably moved here with her parents as a young girl, and they moved to Chicago, and Chicago has a large Polish community, and she was there for some time until she did move to New Mexico in the '30s. And she was painting in New Mexico through the '30s and early '40s, and she moved to L.A. by 1948.

Oh, I see.

So the two paintings you have are before that. These are both works on paper, both of them looking like a watercolor or a gouache. It's a New Mexican scene, I would think, dated here "1940" and signed by her. Now, the portrait, which is particularly arresting, you don't think of Fauve painting when you see the pieces of pottery, but it is so clear on this piece here. This is considerably earlier. It is dated "1932," signed with her maiden name. And it is so spectacular. The pieces of pottery that she does with the young girls, you can have larger pieces which will be up to $1,000. But a plate like this at auction would probably bring about $200. The paintings come up from time to time, and you see the landscapes, $1,000 to $1,500. That portrait, and I don't know if there are others out there, but it's certainly the first one I've ever seen of hers. I discussed that with a colleague at the painting table, and we seem to agree that an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000...

Oh, my!

Would be appropriate.

Do you feel it is a self-portrait, or...?

I don't know if it is or not. It's kind of dreamy and soulful and sad, but so very strong and kind of the precursor of what was sweet but much more commercial that she ended up doing later.

Much more commercial, yeah.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2011)
$9,200 Auction$13,700 Auction
Eugene, OR (June 04, 2011)

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.