1726 George I Walnut & Oak Hanging Shelf

Value (2011) | $3,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I've lived most of my career outside the U.S.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
Eleven years of which was spent in England.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
If I recall correctly, I bought this about 30 years ago, in the early '80s, in the English countryside. I always thought it was interesting, because it was kind of my mystery piece.

APPRAISER:
And when you bought it, do you remember, did it say something on the receipt?

GUEST:
I think it probably said, "Antique oak hanging shelf" or something like that.

APPRAISER:
Well, one of the things that I think is so great about it, apart from the fact that it is a bit of a mystery, is the fact that you've got an initialed and a dated piece with a monogram. The date of 1726 tells us that this was made in the end of George I's reign. His son, George II, takes over in 1727. You rarely have early pieces of English country type things that have a date on them.

GUEST:
And that survive, I guess.

APPRAISER:
Exactly. But maybe because it was so weird and unusual, everyone thought, "Well, gosh, we can't get rid of that, "it's such a great conversation piece."

GUEST:
Yes, and I think it is. I have two things that I always play with guests.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
To guess what it is. And this is one of the two.

APPRAISER:
So, what have people come up with?

GUEST:
Some people have thought it was for pipes.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Because you have this strange hole, and then kind of a support here.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
So those long pipes.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
Or other people have said it was probably from a church. I don't know, incense or something, I don't know what it would hold.

APPRAISER:
I think those are all really interesting guesses, and to some extent it is a mystery to us as well. We can make some good educated guesses. We do know it's made out of oak and walnut, with a little background of fruitwood, which is behind that script monogram.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
I don't think it's a church thing, because we don't have any sort of obvious ecclesiastical symbols on it. You've got an interesting capital letter "M", and then you've got this very elaborate script monogram. Could refer to possibly, maybe an institution or family. The interesting shaped hole, I'm not quite sure if it was for a pipe, and I'm wondering if something like this could have been made for some sort of a ceremonial object or something important that could have possibly been part of a regional guild or a society. You can see that line of dark scarring just right above it at the bottom of the monogram, and I'm wondering if that has to do with something rubbing against it, as something is getting in or out. Do you remember roughly how much you paid for it?

GUEST:
I think it was only a couple hundred pounds.

APPRAISER:
In an English furniture or oak and country sale, I could easily see this selling for probably about the equivalent of $3,000 at auction. And if it were in a more specific sale, even in England, where they often have oak and country furniture sales, it might actually fetch that in pounds. What it is somewhat remains a mystery, but it's a charming one. And thanks for bringing it in.

GUEST:
Thank you. Now I'll continue asking people if they can guess what it is.

APPRAISER:
Good.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2011)
$3,000 Auction
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
18th Century
Form
Shelf
Material
Oak, Walnut, Wood

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