Tiffany Studios Mosaic Inkwell, ca. 1905
I've brought you a Tiffany inkwell. It was part of my mom's collection. My mom was an avid antiquer and would drag my sister and myself to antique shops, secondhand shops and auctions. And I think maybe on one of those forays, she picked this up. I don't know much about it. I know it has some damage on top and otherwise I'm just all yours.
(laughing) Okay, well, it's actually quite a rare piece. What makes it rare is, it's not part of a mass-produced desk set in which there would be 40 different pieces. This is much more of an art piece. It's made by Tiffany Studios, and I can show you the mark right here. Tiffany Studios, New York, with the number. And the number corresponds to the number that you would find in the catalogue that was published around the time that this was made. This was made circa 1905. It's got the mosaic design, and this is all Tiffany favrile glass mosaic. Then it has the liner. We have the part that fits into the inkwell, and then we have the center. And if you look at it very closely, it's a poppy. This is pressed and molded glass where these are all beautiful Tiffany glass tiles that have been iridized and then cut individually. And you have this incredible bronze sculptural design of poppy leaves. Now, the fun part about this is, even though this was made at Tiffany Studios, Louis Comfort Tiffany did not design this. In 2007, there was an exhibition in New York at the New York Historical Society. The title of it was, "Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls: A New Light on Tiffany." And it turns out that it's very likely that Clara Driscoll designed this inkwell. And if she didn't actually do the work on it, it's very likely that the Tiffany girls did. Do you know what your mother might have paid for this?
She didn't have much money in those days. I think she started collecting the '40s, the '50s. She probably paid under $50.
In the condition it's in, in a retail shop, it could sell for between $25,000 and $30,000.
Now, you could go out and find the liner. They can be priced anywhere from $2,000, $3,000. And they're fairly rare, but it can be done. And if you were to replace the liner-- and it would be perfectly fine, as long as it's original Tiffany-- the inkwell would be worth as much as $50,000 in a retail shop.
Oh, my goodness.
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.