Federal Mahogany Side Chair
When I first saw this chair in the outside room I thought, what a great Philadelphia side chair, but as I started to turn it over and look at it a little more closely, especially at the secondary woods on the underside of the seat being white pine and also looking at the reeding, which is classic reeding on a Federal chair you'd see in Boston, as well as these signature acanthus leaf carvings on the baluster which are typical of Boston, I realized what we have is really a rare Federal chair made about 1815, in fact, in Boston. It's very similar to chairs made by Haynes and Connelly in Philadelphia, but the reeding rounds off at the top. It's only done in that area of Boston, not in Philadelphia. And I understand that you inherited this chair. GUEST 1: Right, it came down in my family, in my grandmother's family, and they were from Philadelphia and from Pennsylvania so I assumed it came from the Philadelphia area since it's similar to those chairs.
A lot of furniture was shipped down the coast from Boston. There's a huge trade in shipping down between Boston and the port of Philadelphia. So probably it was bought... and probably part of a set originally. Now, you have another chair at home? GUEST 1: A second chair just like this.
You have a pair of these, okay. Well, that makes them... a pair being more rare, of course. That's pretty exciting. How did you come across the chairs? GUEST 1: My mother told me these were antiques that had been in her family and she said, "Don't ever let anything happen to them." And they were in terrible condition and we just had them refinished. GUEST 2: They had the original upholstery, which was damaged, and the finish was actually crazed. And so I don't know whether it would have been better to leave it in that form or to change it.
Well, I hate to say this but if it was the original upholstery, Federal chairs retaining their original upholstery are extremely, extremely rare. GUEST 2: Right, but it was all in threads.
But if the stuffing and the intact upholstery were there with the little tacks, it would have had... that would have lined this edge. A pair of these with the original finish would be worth between $10,000 and $12,000. When these did get refinished, they lost the original patina that we would see, so you have an even sort of color which also affects the value. In this condition, the pair of chairs, if they came up at auction, would be estimated at about $1,000 to $1,500. So unfortunately, there was quite a big difference in price.
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.