Chinese Jadeite Maidens, ca. 1900
My mother gave them to me about 30 years ago, and she acquired them, so she told me, in New York Chinatown in the '40s, probably.
Did she buy them at auction? Did she buy them privately?
I have to assume she was at a store.
Okay, how have you kept them in your house?
I hate to admit they have been living in their wooden boxes for 30 years, and I have been hesitant to bring them out because she told me that they were very valuable, and I didn't have a really good place to put them.
Well, I have seen a lot of jadeite maidens in my time. These are bigger than most, they're Chinese. They're made somewhere around 1890 to 1920. The stone jade symbolized purity, clarity of spirit. The peonies that these maidens-- which may be immortals, but may just be beautiful women-- hold represents righteousness, wealth and nobility. And so these virtues of the stone and of the pieces themselves actually attracted westerners. So most of these pieces were actually made for the western market in the late 19th and early 20th century. And often they were used as mounts for lamps. The whole structure would be used as a base for a lamp post that would go behind them and a beautiful lamp shade. So that's where you see them both in the Victorian and the Edwardian period in both Europe and the United States. Now, it's a beautiful material. Jadeite is a very luscious stone. It comes in many, many colors, and this has this tinge of lavender, which is highly prized by Chinese and western collectors. And this touch of apple green right here in the peony, to accent the blossom of the flower, and a little bit in the headdress up here. This stone was mined in Burma and then imported into China in the 18th and 19th century. There are natural inclusions in both pieces. When she bought them in the '40s, they were really in fashion. Jadeite, until recently, was less desirable than white nephrite. However, there's been a resurgence in the market. Now many buyers from the mainland are interested in good quality jade. So what do you think they're worth?
Probably a few thousand dollars.
Even with the inclusions in the stone, these pieces, if they were up at auction, would have a pre-sale estimate of $25,000 to $40,000.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.