Meiji Period Iron Spiny Lobster
My father collected arms and armor, and this was always one of my favorite items.
Well, there's a great deal of connection with his collecting and what this object is. This object was probably made by a family called the Myochin. And the Myochin were armorers, that used to make armor. But it turns out, in the middle part of the 19th century, the feudal system collapsed in Japan, and there was no need for these people to do anything. And what they started to do was make tourist objects like this. And this crayfish that you have here is actually made out of iron. And it's completely articulated, totally moveable, and absolutely naturalistic. This is an exact duplicate of the original little animal, with all these moveable parts, and as realistic as it conceivably can be. And in fact, one of the things you notice is that color. That color is actually an artificial color that's been put on it to make it look even more natural. And then, if you reverse the item, and you see the bottom of the piece, you can see all the little articulations and moveable parts that would be on a live lobster, but in this case, recreated in iron. It's just a spectacular work, very, very finely done. And one reason why I attribute it to the Myochin is, the Myochin were so good that it doesn't seem likely too many other people could've done one of this quality. Now, of course, we get to the inevitable question: what did you think it was worth?
I don't know-- yes, I'm not sure.
Well, I sold another piece that was not attributable to the Myochin-- it wasn't as fine a quality. And it was a completely articulated dragon. And dragons are a much, much more common item. I sold that for $10,000.
I would say a conservative price on this one would be $15,000.
Oh, well, great.
But all we need for this one is a little bit of cocktail sauce.
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.