Martin Brothers Humidor, ca. 1878

Value (2013) | $2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction
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GUEST:
I bought it at an auction in Salt Lake City about 15 to 20 years ago.

APPRAISER:
What did you pay for it?

GUEST:
$20. I did a little research on the mark on the bottom and from the best I could tell, it was manufactured in London, England, in approximately 1878 to 1879 by Martin Brothers.

APPRAISER:
Anything about the two faces on it? You know anything about that?

GUEST:
I believe-- I don't know for a fact-- that it's Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington.

APPRAISER:
Any reason why they'd be on there together? (laughing):

GUEST:
They were adversaries. (laughing)

APPRAISER:
Yes, they are adversaries, and that's actually what's quite interesting about this particular piece. If we look at the bottom, we can go and we can see the mark. The mark does read-- it looks like there's something obscure-- and then it reads "Martin" and then it reads "Southall," and that's relatively important. There was a general by the name of Robert Wallace Martin who had three brothers, the Martin brothers, in Southall. They ran the Southall Mark from 1877 to 1879. We've actually never seen this particular mark.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
What's also interesting is we've never seen this form. But it is salt-glazed stoneware made in 1877 to 1879. Now, the Martin brothers are famous for their birds, famous for their bird humidors, famous for the grotesque jugs, real grotesque objects, and they sell for an awful lot of money: tens of thousands of dollars.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
Now, this particular one, we tried to figure out, what is it? The first thing we did: take a big whiff. (sniffing) Now, if we smell that, we smell faint aroma of tobacco, and so we believe we do in fact have a humidor.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
There is a major problem.

GUEST:
It's missing a top.

APPRAISER:
There's no lid, it's missing a top. And that's going to adversely affect the value. It probably had a top, would have been two military hats and it would have been absolutely great.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
Now, you bought it at an auction for $20. Any clue what you think it might be worth today?

GUEST:
I figured when I came here approximately $50, but I wasn't really sure.

APPRAISER:
Well, it would be... Worth a little bit more than $50. Today, if you sold it at auction in the summer of 2013, I would expect an estimate of $2,500 to $3,500.

GUEST:
Wow. Really?

APPRAISER:
What's more interesting about it is because there's so many Martin Brothers collectors out there and they're so hot, it wouldn't surprise me if it doubled or tripled that estimate.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Quite a nice piece. Now, if it had its top, we would anticipate an appropriate auction estimate of probably $6,000 to $9,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my lord!

APPRAISER:
And it would not surprise me if it did maybe $15,000 or more. That would be nice.

APPRAISER:
Yes, it would be very nice.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Quinn's Auction Galleries
Falls Church, Virginia
Appraised value (2013)
$2,500 Auction$3,500 Auction
Event
Baton Rouge, LA (July 27, 2013)
Period
19th Century
Form
Humidor
Material
Stoneware

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