Fake Ivory Netsukes, ca.1961
Well, I was at a media trade show in New York City, and I was running around with nothing to do down in the lobby, and I ran into a gift shop where there was an estate sale going on. And the wife and I just bought a new home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it was all in oriental. And I found these things and thought they'd be a good curio-cabinet display.
Okay. And these are called "netsuke," Japanese carvings made as toggles. Now, each one of these is individually hand-carved, and each one is signed-- here's a signature on the underside of this one. And each one is signed by a particular artist. Now, netsuke have been made as early as the 18th century, but they continued to make copies. Today, they cannot make them in ivory anymore, because it's outlawed. These were elephant ivory, however these were all made in 1960 to 1962. They are all new. Each one has a tag. This tag is from the Japanese factory. Each one came from the same factory; they all came in together to the U.S. Every one made at the same time. Now, one thing about these that will help you decide when you look at them whether they're old or new is that every one has the same exact polish, the same amount of wear on every place on it. Nothing differs. There's no different color, they don't show that they've been handled a lot over the years so that hand oil has changed the color of the ivory. They all have the exact same handiwork. Now, they claim to be by various artists, but they're not, they were by craftsmen. The originals would be by famous artists. And in this envelope is a whole set of papers indicating the artist who made each one and describing each one, but that's all not true. You told me you paid about how much for them then?
Oh, I think between $300 and $500.
For the whole set?
All right, well, it's not a bad investment in some ways, because today they would sell for about $200 to $300 each. Bad part about it is you were sold antiques which were new. That's the problem. And that's the thing that we have to steer away from when we look at antiques. You have to deal with people who you can trust and who do a good thing for you. I think "crooked" is the word for it.
That's too bad.
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.