North Dakota School of Mines Vase, ca. 1935

Value (2017) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

I received it from my father-in-law. It had been my mother-in-law's vase. I believe it was made by the sister of Margaret Cable.

Margaret Cable was a potter at the University of North Dakota back in the 1930s. The depiction on the vase shows flickertails and wheat, which are very representative of North Dakota. So this would have been made between 1924 and 1949, because that's when Miss Cable and Miss Huckfield were together at North Dakota School of Mines. And you said you thought it was from the '30s.

I believe so.

I'm comfortable with that. Let's say 1935. They're not dated. We can't say exactly. But stylistically, and knowing for sure when the two women were there, 1935 works. And you said you had it appraised once before?

I did, by a local appraiser. And that was about 12 years ago. And they estimated it to be between $1,200 and $1,500 in value.

We knew, being in Bismarck, we were going to see North Dakota School of Mines. We were here nine years ago, and we saw a lot of it then, and knew that more would come in. But I wanted to be selective for several reasons. There's a lot of fairly mediocre North Dakota School of Mines out there. A lot of it was done by students, and they're smallish pieces. The larger pieces, they're not as common. They tended to be done by the better artists, they cost more money when they were sold, they took more time to make. And you mentioned Miss Cable's sister. This is in fact signed by Flora Huckfield. Also, I should point out, while I have the vase turned upside down, it says here, "North Dakota wheat and flickertails." What's a flickertail, by the way?

A little ground animal. We call them gophers, ground squirrels. When they run, their tails flicker back and forth, so...

Hence the name flickertails.

Flickertail, yes.

It's got the local interest, it's got the wheat and the flickertails. It's a good size vase. It's a really cool shape, too, which is another problem I have with North Dakota School of Mines-- some of the shapes are a little on the clumsy side. This is more like a Newcomb College shape. Since 2008, a lot of prices for a lot of American pottery has dropped. And not all of it has come back. And then that's certainly been true of North Dakota School of Mines work. The smallish pieces were selling for $1,000 to $1,500 with some decoration, and now they're $500 to $1,000 or $600 to $900. They've really dropped, and they've not come back. I think the exceptions have been for the larger pieces like this one, because if you see 100 pieces of North Dakota School of Mines, this will be better than 99 of them. You kept it in beautiful shape, and it's clean.

My husband grew up on a ranch in the badlands of North Dakota, and this vase sat on the floor of their living room for years. And he said, "I knocked into it all the time." And it's just amazing that it didn't chip or break.

In my estimation, at auction, I think the piece is worth between $4,000 and $6,000.

Really? This piece is worth between $4,000 and $6,000? Oh, my goodness, I had no idea. That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Update (2017)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Appraised value (2014)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Bismarck, ND (May 31, 2014)

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.