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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Antiques Considered - October 14, 2009

This papier mache tray comes from a lady from the lower Northern Neck.  She acquired it at an estate sale of a wealthy socialite from New York City many years ago.  The paint is in excellent condition, and the decoration is still quite vibrant.  Unfortunately, the point of one end has broken off, but the missing part had no decoration on it.
Many types of antiques have developed new markets due to the arrival of the Internet.  In some cases prices have dropped radically as the web has made similar items both more affordable and more available to a larger market.  Papier mache is one antiques genre which has remained both stable and strong.  It is highly collectible and in constant demand.

As the name implies it is a composition of paper which has been pressed together to form a tough and durable surface, capable of holding objects and of being painted.  It comes in a wide variety of uses, from trays such as this one to sewing boxes, vanity items, and picture frames.
Usually, the background color is black, as in the case of this tray, and the decoration often includes mother-of-pearl insets as highlights in floral arrangements.  Rarely do we find the artwork signed, and the pieces are equally rarely hallmarked.
This tray is worth $300 in its present condition.  By investing in having the end reconstructed and restored, the value will increase by at least as much as the work should cost.  Locally here in the Northern Neck the Renaissance Shop in White Stone could handle the restoration competently and reasonably.
Often I have seen many such trays set on custom-made stands to form end tables, sometimes with cases with glass tops to protect them from damage from spillage.  Papier mache is a good investment antique, and this particular tray is a fine example of the style and type.
Happy Antiquing...

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