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A Week in the Life of an Antiques Appraiser: My Top 5 Finds

Antiques Appraiser Finds | Chinese Vase

K'ang-hsi Period Cloisonne Bottle-Form Vase, China, 1662-1722, Estimate $10,000-15,000


Have you ever watched Antiques Roadshow on PBS? As a senior art and antiques appraiser at Skinner, many of my days are a lot like the reality TV show.

I spend considerable time meeting with prospective consignors at our Marlborough and Boston auction galleries and viewing the antiques, collectibles & fine art brought in for an auction evaluation.

I’m always surprised by what I see. Items run the gamut, spanning centuries, continents and values. The stories behind these antiques are often fascinating.

Over the past few weeks, many interesting items have come through our doors. Here are five of my favorites that I’ve taken in on consignment.

Keep an eye out for these antiques in future Skinner auctions:

1. K’ang-hsi Period Cloisonné Bottle-Form Vase, China, 1662-1722

The fluidity of the floral pattern and elegant form made this piece stand out from the Bohemian glass, Limoges china and other items on the viewing table. Purchased at auction in New York in 1911, this vase will be featured in our April Asian Works of Art auction after 100 years off the market. Auction estimate: $10,000-15,000.

2. Norse-revival Silver Covered Presentation Cup & Cover, by the Norwegian silversmith Henrik Moller

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Combining the Arts & Crafts styling of the period with scenes from the Viking Sagas, mythical beasts and dense interlaced stylized foliage, this cup has a fantastical look that would fit any décor from Arts & Crafts to Goth. Auction estimate: $4,000-6,000.

3. Miniature Portrait on Ivory of a Gentleman

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The profile is dashing in a Darcy-like way, and a curious note accompanying the piece mentions a Margaret Churchill, duchess of Marlborough, and H. Francis Blagge whose initials are engraved on the reverse of the token. Auction estimate: $400-600.

4. Pair of Minton Pate-sur-Pate and parcel-gilt decorated cabinet plates

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Signed by the artist Albion Birks, and painted in the slip technique imported from France in the late 19th century, the plates are elegant with scenes of Cupid and gilded foliage. Minton saw great success with this line of wares at the turn of the 20th century. Auction estimate: $1,000-1,500.

5. Art Deco Fada Radio

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From the model line L-56 first introduced in 1939 and made of Catalin, a brand-name resin similar to, but not identical to Bakelite, the radio’s yellow color isn’t as rare as those incorporating multi-color combinations but it should appeal to both art deco collectors and radio enthusiasts alike. Auction estimate: $300-500.

3 thoughts on “A Week in the Life of an Antiques Appraiser: My Top 5 Finds

  1. “A Week in the Life of an Antiques Appraiser” is fascinating. Are you able to tell us a little of the stories related to objects? I imagine that, for client privacy reasons, are you limited in what you can relay. Keep the blog entries coming.

  2. The Norwegian silversmith Henrik Moller is beginning to be recognized as one of the greats. His stuff is quite rare, although items can be found here and there. Some of these highly collectible pieces are greatly undervalued. For example, I found a fantastic, figural Moller pickle fork on Replacements for $74 !! That was definitely my find of the year.

    • Stephen, The design and craftsmanship found in Moller’s work is wonderful and the market agreed, sending the price of the silver presentation cup well beyond the $4000-6000 pre-auction estimate to fetch $8,888. Good luck with your collection.


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