Fish Trade Sign, ca. 1855
Well, it was in my wife's family for probably close to 50-plus years. Whenever we move to a different house or anything, we always pick one spot for it so it's seen.
She acquired it from her dad, is that correct?
Yes, she got it from her father. He collected a lot of everything. Whether it was folk art or American, he had quite a few pieces.
Well, I love trade signs, and I think this is a particularly attractive one. It shows evidence of it having hung outside for a very long time, and that's part of its beauty. We can look at the quality of the carving, which is top-notch. It has beautiful form, it has wonderful surface-- the surface on here appears to be very old-- it's mounted on this beautiful, wrought-iron bracket. That in itself is a work of art. Whoever made this was very talented. It's very graceful. It shows considerable detail. And that, in combination with the sign, makes it, I think, for my money, quite spectacular. It's a little difficult to tell its origin. One clue might be the sort of wood that was used in the carving of the fish. Well, we don't know, do we? It's all painted over. Layers and layers of paint. So we have to make a judgment as to its aesthetic appeal in determining how much money we think it's worth. So do you have any idea about its value at all?
Not really. We kind of guessed maybe around $7,000, something like that.
I think that's not a bad guess, but I think for auction purposes I might suggest estimating it in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. I think that's conservative. There are certain situations where somebody might pay considerably more because it's such a terrific example of a trade sign.
It is nice. We really like it.
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