Iridescent Tiffany Vases, ca. 1910
My mother-in-law, she's a Tiffany collector. And she allowed me to pick some pieces out of her collection as a gift. So these were two of the pieces that I picked, but she has a very wide variety of Tiffany pieces in her collection.
So these are two of the three or four that you picked?
You have Tiffany, which you do know. Well, this particular piece is more of a commercial made piece. They made more of them, but all Tiffany is extremely wonderful and valuable. This is an iridescent favrile piece with the vine and leaf pattern. And on the bottom we have an M suffix number, which tells us that this was made in 1915. Then we have here a calyx style-- and that's the shape of the piece-- and it's also Tiffany. The suffix number on the bottom is an A, and that is for 1903. This particular piece is more of an art piece. They made not many of them. I mean they're out there, but not many of them. So it's more in the art, Tiffany art piece, this one is more in the commercial line. Now, what did she tell you about value?
She found it in a garage sale. She didn't tell me how much she paid for it, but she said that the owners didn't know what they had. So when she saw it, she quickly scooped it up.
And she gave you some little idea of what she normally pays?
I think she said around $200.
$200, well, this particular piece would be $6,000.
The calyx piece would be $7,500. And those are retail values.
Whoa. Oh, my goodness.
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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."
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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.
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