Gio Ponti Ceramic Plaques, ca. 1930
My dad bought these at an estate sale, probably in the late '60s, from an elderly couple that were friends of theirs. And they had purchased them in Italy. When I did a little research on them, I found they were made by a designer named Gio Ponti in the early '20s. He'd been trained as an architect, and this was his first real job. When he was asked about this period of his life, he felt he was a failed architect and that he was just a draftsman now. So these were his draftings.
When doing these, he did work for the Richard Ginori ceramic manufacturer. And I will show you a mark on the back. This is made in Italy. And these have a wonderful, very modern, very industrial look to them. They're extremely exciting. Even something like this, which is in black and white, is so strong graphically. The way these are decorated, these are partly transfer-printed, but they're also painted by hand over that. Now, he did these designs for many different medium. He did plates, he did vases, and he did tiles. Now, we have had several tiles-- much smaller, eight-inch tiles-- go from $550 to $1,500 a tile. Large ones like this, which are so rare and so fabulous, easily $5,000 apiece.
Oh, no, really?
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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."
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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.
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