Tiffany Studios Spanish Pattern Desk Set, ca. 1935
My grandfather worked for Tiffany's back in the '30s, and one Christmas, it was a Christmas bonus that he received.
And what did your grandfather do at Tiffany's?
He was a salesman for the stained glass. That's what he sold for churches and sacred items and things like that.
You have this wonderful desk set. It's in a very rare pattern, it's called a Spanish pattern, and what's interesting is, when your grandfather was given it, there was a list here of the pieces and the values at the time, which is in 1935. In addition, there's this wonderful card from Joseph Riggs, who was the manager of Tiffany Studios at the time. This is the very tail end of Tiffany Studios, 1935.
I mean, they were virtually in bankruptcy and they probably had no money to give him a bonus. So this was it, and they often paid employees with items rather than having to pay them.
Tiffany Studios made about 15 different desk set patterns. They had an American Indian pattern. They had a Chinese pattern. They had patterns that had bronze with glass set in them. They had pieces that had mosaics in them. So it was really quite an undertaking. And some of these sets would have 30, 40 pieces. And what's nice is, you have this whole set, which, you can see, makes quite an impressive display. This is, uh, blotter ends. There would have been a blotter in between this piece and that piece, this is a memo pad. This is a perpetual calendar here. You have this pen tray. This is called a rocker blotter. This is a daily memo pad. This is the letter rack. You have a letter opener, a magnifying glass, an inkwell, and this great pair of bookends, which is a particularly rare piece.
Somehow, bookends always seem to get separated from their sets. And it has what they called the Spanish pattern. So you have these figures from, looks like Spanish history, sort of Renaissance-looking, grotesque griffins. Most people think of Tiffany in the Art Nouveau style, but he has a range of styles, and these were commercially made things to cover a whole range of different tastes. And people pay a premium for having a complete set like this. In a good shop, this set complete would sell for about $15,000.
Wow, that's great.
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.