Meissen Porcelain Figural Group, ca. 1878
In another life, I was in the antique furniture business for about 30 years, and this happened to be in a house full of stuff I bought, and since I was a furniture guy, I didn't really know anything about this and still don't. I've owned it probably more than 30 years.
It's made at the Meissen porcelain factory in Germany. And Meissen is perhaps one of the best-known names in the history of ceramic art. It's where porcelain making proper really started in earnest in Europe, about 300 years ago. And they've been making porcelain in Meissen ever since then, including things like this, which have been made since the 18th century. You can see the characters themselves, these two lovers, are very much 18th-century figures; they're dressed in 18th-century costume. Beautifully modeled, I must say, every detail about it, including this rather naughty detail of his hand at the back.
Very well done. The hand is quite discreet, I think, because of the time. This was made in the middle of the Victorian years, when Meissen were making large quantities of porcelain figurines for export, and many of them made their way to England. It would have been part of a wealthy family's holdings. Made probably about 1875 or '80. We can tell that just by looking at it, the quality of the modeling, the color scheme in particular, and to a certain extent, the subject matter and the way it's treated. And then if we turn it over, we can see this blue crossed swords mark. It's a very familiar mark in porcelain making, but it's most closely associated with the Meissen factory. And that particular form of the crossed swords-- slightly large, slightly paler blue-- is typical of mid- to late-Victorian years. So all in all, I think it's a great example of Meissen porcelain figural modeling from a good period. Not the earliest period and not the most valuable period, but a good period. I'd like to point out his hat here, which is upturned and possibly intended to hold a little perfume, a little pastille of some sort, to create a fragrance. I've met lots of people who appreciate and adore Meissen, many of whom started buying Meissen right after World War II, when it was very affordable in North America. There are fluctuations in the market, and if we had been sitting here 20 years ago, the value would have been perhaps as much as twice what it is today. Nevertheless, there is some value on it. I think if it came to auction today, I would see it bringing perhaps at least $800 and maybe as much as $1,200 at auction.
And I would say 20 years ago, perhaps $2,000.
Ah, great. Well, I had no expectations, so that's great.
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.
Walt Disney | AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Coming to American Experience September 14 & 15 is the unprecedented look at the complex life and enduring legacy of one of America’s best-known storytellers – Walt Disney
Arthur & George
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a three-part MASTERPIECE Mystery! adaptation of the novel by Julian Barnes. Airs Sundays, September 6-20