Match Safe Collection, ca. 1900

Value (2004) | $20,000 Retail

APPRAISER:
Well, this is quite a fantastic collection you've got here. Is this the entire collection?

GUEST:
No, there are approximately 270 pieces in the collection.

APPRAISER:
Well, they're, of course, match safes. Popular from about 1850 to 1930, made of all materials, anything from gold, ivory, brass. And I see you have quite a few sterling ones here. Sounds like you've been collecting them for a long time.

GUEST:
Almost 30 years.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's interesting to see this as a representative collection of match holders. Of course, matches were invented back, I think, in the 1840s, and they were first called "vestas" after the... the Roman goddess of... of fire. And, as a practical thing, they kept them watertight. Underneath, of course, is the striker there. This is the days before safety matches. And usually the silver ones are marked there. I see this is an American one. Most of the ones you have here are American. The American ones tend to be more elaborate. I mean, the heyday, as you say, was the... the end of the 19th century, and that's when you get these wonderful Art Nouveau ones or these humorous ones, like this one with the saddle. My favorite, I think, is... is this one here, which is the newspaper wrapper.

GUEST:
Mine also.

APPRAISER:
That's postmarked "New York, 1907," so I think we can date that. That's a very popular one with collectors today. Its current value is probably somewhere about a thousand dollars. This one here is Ulysses Grant, but I don't think it's as old as he was. I think this is probably produced later, probably towards the end of the 19th century. The figural ones here are always popular. This is made in brass. It looks like sort of a frog, doesn't it?

GUEST:
Yes, it was interesting, and we liked it and actually hocked on it for about three years from a jeweler here who paid too much for it, and we finally paid too much for it, too.

APPRAISER:
Well, how much did you pay for it?

GUEST:
I think we gave about $400 for that one at the time.

APPRAISER:
Well, I think you did all right there, because I think at the moment that's probably worth about a thousand to $1,200.

GUEST:
Okay. Very good, then.

APPRAISER:
This silver enamel one's very sought after now. Now, they made these in England, of course, but also they're less common in American silver. This is a really nice one. It has one little condition problem that you probably know. There's a little nick in the enamel there. That's going to take away a bit of the value, but I'd say it's still probably worth somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.

GUEST:
Very good.

APPRAISER:
And then this is great, this figural pair of army breeches. I'd say they're probably late 19th century. I don't think they're as early as Civil War period. They have a striker on the inside there, but that's a very popular version. I'd say that's probably worth maybe $800 to $1,200. So, you've got just here a selection which probably, I'd say, adds up to about $20,000 in all.

GUEST:
Ah, very good.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christopher Hartop
Fakenham, Norfolk, ENGLAND
Appraised value (2004)
$20,000 Retail
Event
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)
Material
Ivory, Metal

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