Décorchemont Glass, ca. 1920
Well, it originally belonged to an antique dealer in Pittsburgh, and he would never sell it. But when he passed away they had an auction, and I was bound and declared I was going to go to that auction, and I did, and I bought it at the auction. That's about maybe 35 years ago.
And when did you first see it in his... in his shop?
Probably in the early '60s, I would think.
Do you remember what you paid for it when you bought it at the auction?
I think I paid $120 for it.
Really? What's exceptional about it is it's by Décorchemont. Um... it is French. It's from the 1920s, and it is made in a technique that we call pate de verre. And pate de verre is made by a very interesting process that is unlike other glass techniques. It's essentially made from ground pastes of glass. That ground glass in various colors is put into the mold and then it is baked in an oven until it gets into this form. There are inclusions that come about-- often you don't get crisp detail. It has the scarabs on it, which in the 1920s, with the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb and other Egyptian monuments, there was a great deal of fascination with all things that were somewhat Egyptian inspired. And what's astonishing about this piece is the detail is exceptionally strong with the long lines coming down from the scarabs. There are very few bubble inclusions and the color is very, very strong, which is also very important in the pate de verre in the Décorchemont pieces. If this piece were sold at auction and it were in perfect condition, it would sell for approximately $18,000 to $24,000 today. It's the sort of piece that we would expect in pate de verre to break a record because of the fineness of the piece, the quality...
But it is not perfect.
Unfortunately, that is the case. And one will see that through the lower portion of the body of this piece, it is obviously broken straight through. I mean, I shouldn't say it's broken, it has cracked. It goes around the piece over the signature-- and there is the signature that you see.
And there are some chips on the...
There are some small chips, but they're not terribly significant. But obviously, the crack going around the structure of the piece would be a problem. At auction today, I would think that one might get $2,000 or $3,000 for it. It's very difficult when glass has been broken to determine exactly how much it might sell for. It becomes a much smaller market.
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.