Fake English Bureau Bookcase, ca. 1900

Value (2011) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I inherited this from my aunt who had an antique shop in Muskogee, Oklahoma. But she purchased this from a Mrs. Rosenbaum in Fort Worth, who was... apparently she purchased a lot of her furniture from there and the lady acquired it from all over. She put it in the shop for a little while and then she decided to take it home. And I inherited it as a result when she passed away ten years ago.

APPRAISER:
So, how long do you think it was in your family?

GUEST:
Oh, I think she'd probably had it about 15 years.

APPRAISER:
Did she tell you what it is before you inherited it?

GUEST:
She just told me it was a very, very old piece of furniture. (laughs) I think she told me I couldn't afford it.

APPRAISER:
Well, good thing you inherited it. (laughs) Stylistically, this would have been fashionable in England in the beginning of the 18th century. So 1720 to 1740. The style would be known as Queen Anne, and this is a crossbanded burl walnut cabinet. The piece is typical of English furniture with this beautifully- shaped pediment, the mirrored doors, the choice of woods and the candle slides, which are indicative of the period. That's what it's trying to be. It actually is not made in the 18th century, and it's probably not made in the 19th century. This is made to deceive. And it was probably made in beginning of the 20th century. So in other words, this is a fake. It's not as old as it portends.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
And the way that I know that is by looking at the physical evidence of this piece of furniture. If it were 300 years old, you would have much more distress, and age, cracks and replaced veneers than this has.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
You would also have times when somebody was trying to move it without assistance across the floor and the feet would break. There are no repairs to the feet.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
You would have indications of shrinkage in the moldings, and there's none of that. When I looked at the back of this piece, the color varies from top to bottom, which is an indication of staining, which is a faker's trick to make something look old. Back in the 18th century, as is true today, the old expression about time is money, that was as applicable then as it is now, and in order to expedite the production of a piece of furniture, the same materials would have been used on the upper section as they would have been used in the lower section. So when I compare them like this, they have different thicknesses to the drawer fronts, the sides are different thicknesses, the dovetails are different, and the color is different. What they did do, in keeping with the English tradition, was to use oak secondary. Let's go and look at some other indications. These are called bat wing brasses. Lots of times bat wing brasses are from the early 18th century. These are not original, and I can tell that because there are some extra holes here that are indicative of something else being there.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And so, when I look at the overall appearance, it tells me this is not of the period. So this is actually a piece that was probably made in England, in the English tradition, but it's not from the period. If this were to come to an auction, it would be estimated at maybe $4,000 to $6,000. Retail would be higher.

GUEST:
Well, it's disappointing, but I'm glad to know it.

APPRAISER:
Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it is important that you know the true story behind it. If this piece were actually an 18th century original, I think you'd probably be looking at something in the range of $40,000 to $60,000 for the auction estimate.

GUEST:
Uh-huh. I'll take it home and enjoy it now and won't worry about damaging it.

APPRAISER:
Taking it home is the perfect thing to do with it.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Nye and Company
Bloomfield, NJ
Appraised value (2011)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Form
Bookcase
Material
Glass, Wood

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