Pyrography Plant Stand & Table

Value (2013) | $3,200 Auction
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APPRAISER:
What you've brought today are two objects which tell us a lot about our past here in America, but they're also the two best examples of something called pyrography that we've ever seen. Have you heard that term before?

GUEST:
Pyrography?

APPRAISER:
Pyrography. It's pyro, as in to burn: pyro. And pyrography is a Victorian-era term which refers to designs being made with fire or with heat.

GUEST:
Right. I had known it to be called burnt-match technique.

APPRAISER:
That's another term for it. But pyrography was something coined during the 19th century in England. They used a hot poker and then burnt the designs into the wood.

GUEST:
Yeah?

APPRAISER:
By about 1890 in America, the interest was just starting. There were kits sold in the ladies' magazines and the men's magazines basically showing how you could decorate furniture with fire. Now, this picture is of your...

GUEST:
My great-grandfather.

APPRAISER:
Great, okay. It was taken probably in the late 19th century, right?

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
You told me that he worked at the Weller Pottery, right?

GUEST:
Yes, he did work there for a time, and either artist or in the office.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's interesting that he worked at the Weller Pottery. We don't know whether or not he was a designer, but these designs are very detailed. The nasturtiums on this table are done so well, it makes me think of pottery with this wonderful watercolor design, and then they've been varnished and protected. It's just incredibly work intensive and well done. This plant stand that your great-grandfather decorated is... Again, it's one of the best pieces of pyrography I've seen and we've seen on the ROADSHOW. And we look at a lot of pyrography. Usually we get little boxes with some dull decoration. This, if we spin it around and look at the decoration, it's just incredible. You can see all those little marks. Each one was done with a small hot iron put into a benzene flame, an alcohol-type base flame, and burnt in. And actually, it was a dangerous pastime because these ladies were working with these little... kind of a little gun with an iron on the end and heating it in a benzene flame, and quite often, they actually exploded, causing fires. So it wasn't just this safe little lazy pastime. It was dangerous. The table, you said your aunts cut it down? She cut it down?

GUEST:
My grandma did, yeah.

APPRAISER:
Your grandma. Sorry. So it's worth a lot less than it was worth. Somebody turned it into a coffee table. But this would be worth still, cut down, probably about... probably $1,200 or so.

GUEST:
Oh, yeah?

APPRAISER:
Yeah, is that a surprise?

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
Now this, because it's really... it's kind of the Mona Lisa of pyrography, this would be worth in the marketplace-- because we know who made it-- about... you ready? $2,000 for that.

GUEST:
Oh, wow.

APPRAISER:
So they total, really, over $3,000.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Keno Auctions
New York, New York
Value Update (2013)
$3,200 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$3,200 Auction
Event
Columbus, OH (August 14, 1999)
Period
19th Century
Form
Table
Material
Wood

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