Japanese Silver Tortoise, ca. 1900

Value (2012) | $20,000 Auction$30,000
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GUEST:
Well, my father brought it back from World War II. And he said he won it in a card game. I just know it was in the attic for a long time.

APPRAISER:
It's a tortoise. And it's an unusual tortoise, because I've never seen a tortoise with hair, have you?

GUEST:
Well, I don't think it's hair, is it? I think it looks like seaweed or something, moss.

APPRAISER:
And you're absolutely correct. This is Japanese, and this is called a Minogame, which is a mythical tortoise. The tortoise in Asian mythology has a very special place. It occupies a position that more or less unites the relationships between heaven and earth. The trail here attached to the back is seaweed. And that emphasizes the great age of the tortoise. Now, in terms of workmanship, it is solid silver. And it weighs over 100 ounces of solid silver. So that in itself means that it has some significant value. But I think it might have more value than that because actually, as you look at this, you'll see that on the surface, there's these barnacles that are attached, that I am almost certain that they're solid gold. So in addition to the material, though, there's the workmanship. Not only the detail of things like the barnacles, but the details of the scales, the face, the seaweed. All this is chased and done by hand. And then if we turn it over on the underside, we'll see that there's incredibly fine workmanship here. And the individual that did it actually has his name incorporated in this inscription, which we haven't been able to look up the name yet, but we will do so. This was made during the late 19th century, early part of the 20th century, and the condition is terrific. And how much did your dad win? How much were his winnings in the card game?

GUEST:
I have no idea.

APPRAISER:
So you tell me what you think this is worth.

GUEST:
I have no idea. Like you said, the silver, netted at solid silver, you're talking $3,000 or $4,000?

APPRAISER:
Yeah, let's add a little bit. I think it's more like $20,000 to $30,000 at auction.

GUEST:
Whoa. (laughing) That's quite a bit more than I thought it would be. That's fantastic. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Appraised value (2012)
$20,000 Auction$30,000
Event
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 23, 2012)
Form
Animal, Figure
Material
Gold, Silver

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