Georgian-Style Secretary Bookcase

Value (2013) | $3,000 Auction$8,000 Retail
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GUEST:
When we bought it 37 years ago, it was the very first antique we ever bought in the French Quarter. And so it was in a storeroom, and it was very dirty and full of cobwebs. And actually, when the salesperson brought me in the storeroom, the light went out, so I saw it by flashlight. The man didn't know when it would be cleaned up and back on the floor, and he didn't know how much it was. He said that he thought that it was English. So six months later, we were back. It was all cleaned up. It was in the shop window when we walked by, and it said, "Come in and get me, I want to go home with you."

APPRAISER:
Well, what you have is a Georgian-style secretary bookcase. And it is a piece of furniture that was made around 1900. It is a copy of an 18th century piece of furniture. Now, when we use the word "Georgian," that covers a lot of territory. You have George I all the way through George IV. So you're looking at furniture design in England. You're right, it's English.

GUEST:
It is?

APPRAISER:
Going all the way from 1714 up to 1837. At this stage, this is a mèlange of many of those styles all wrapped into one. And one of the ways that we know that is the reduced size of this piece. It's easily used as a modern piece of furniture. I mean, in the day, in the 18th century, a secretary bookcase would have been a very large piece of furniture. If you were able to afford something like this in a grand home, it would have been much bigger. And then the other thing that we look at is what are the materials? It's very wonderful burl veneer all across the front, and then this marquetry inlay going along this strip. You have pilasters on the side, which is pulling from Renaissance and early Roman architecture. The cartouche you referred to has got a classical design on the front. We don't know who it is, but it's an homage to classicism. So any idea of the value?

GUEST:
I only know what I paid for it.

APPRAISER:
What did you pay for it?

GUEST:
Well, it had a tag on it, $10,000, but I didn't have... I was 20% shy of that.

APPRAISER:
Yup, yup, yup.

GUEST:
So I begged, pled, gnashed my teeth, tore my hair, and to get rid of me, they sold it to me for $8,000.

APPRAISER:
$8,000.

GUEST:
Yeah, that was in 1977.

APPRAISER:
New Orleans has got great antiques and a great history of selling antiques. It is the kind of thing that an $8,000 price tag in New Orleans is where you're at today as well on a piece like this, and the reason why is that it has... the style has gone out of fashion a little bit with modern, more modern collectors and younger collectors. But if I were in an auction setting, I would probably be estimating in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.

GUEST:
(gasps) You've ruined my day.

APPRAISER:
I'm sorry!

GUEST:
(laughs) That is amazing.

APPRAISER:
Yes, but we say it's a great time to buy this kind of thing.

GUEST:
$3,000 to $5,000. You tell me where I can go get another one. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2013)
$3,000 Auction$8,000 Retail
Event
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)
Category
Furniture
Material
Wood

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