American Walnut Settee, ca. 1870

Value (2011) | $600 Auction$800 Auction

I bought this about 20 years ago at an antiques show in Tulsa, and the gentleman told me it was a John Jelliff, but I have no way of knowing if that was true or not. I paid about $2,000 for it, but I've gotten at least that much use out of it, so...

Did you have it upholstered, or was it upholstered just like this when you got it?

I bought it just like this, and I love it.

John Jelliff was a highly regarded cabinet maker, furniture maker in Newark, New Jersey, and we group him into a group of cabinet makers that would be... include New York, which is a distinct area of furniture making. He has really become synonymous with furniture that contains these classic busts. Oftentimes, he incorporates this little medallion here, which is thought to be Christopher Columbus as well. But in addition to John Jelliff, there were lots of cabinet makers and furniture makers that use this motif, a number in New York and even some in the Midwest that made it. While these heads are so typically referred to as Jelliff-type heads, this whole form is decidedly post-Civil War, roughly 1865 to '75. John Jelliff retired from the furniture business in 1860.


So while his company ran, it was not under his direct leadership. But when we analyze this on whether or not this was Jelliff, there's a few things that stand out to me, primarily quality. His best work was in rosewood. He did do it in walnut, as this is done, with his burled applications. Design-wise and quality-wise, this appears, just the quality of the carving, as a little bit more factory-generated. The arms, while they have this tassel, which is symbolic of Jelliff, the crispness overall isn't quite Jelliff. I think it's Midwest manufacture, it might even be Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Well, 20 years ago it might have been worth $2,000. In today's market, it has changed. People just aren't collecting it with the same vigor that they did.

Oh, I know.

And honestly, as much as I hate to say it, in the real world today, at auction, you're probably looking at $600 to $800.

Well, that's okay. I still love it.


That's all right.

Even if it was what we consider to be Jelliff today, the market is soft on that as well, and you're probably looking at $1,000 to $1,500.

At least I know now.


That's good.

Appraisal Details

Sacramento, CA
Appraised value (2011)
$600 Auction$800 Auction
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
19th Century
Fabric, Walnut

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