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Antiques Considered - February 8, 2012

During the Saint Clement’s Island Museum Appraiser Fair ten days ago several people brought in some especially fine pieces of Roseville pottery.  Today Roseville is one of the most collectible forms of American art pottery, whereas a generation ago it was not well known and had a small collector base.  Most of the factory’s pieces, made in the first half of the last century, went on the market unsigned except for the embossed factory name on the undersides of the pieces.


  The pieces at last week’s event were unsigned, but of superb quality.  The bowl pictured is

worth $300, but I can remember when it would have been appraised at $25.  Roseville illustrates the fact that antiques are commodities, and that their increasing or waning popularity directly affects their value.

As I have written previously, in appraising an antique one must look at four factors: age, condition, maker, and provenance.  Because something is old does not necessarily mean it is good or valuable.  Many times I have seen pieces that families thought were significant because of their age, but in reality the items were nondescript as far as their economic significance was concerned.

Again I advise individuals interested in having an appraisal done first to attend an appraiser fair, and observe the techniques that professionals use in determining and setting values.  Although each of us has his or her own method of reaching conclusions, a basic theme of understanding of the nature of the appraisal process should be common to all.

One of the most vital considerations should be that the appraiser has no vested interest in the items being evaluated, and by all means is not a candidate to purchase any of them.  I have participated in many public evaluations, such as the Saint Clement’s Island Museum Appraiser Fair, and each year I am impressed by the high level of professionalism that all of the appraisers exhibit.  The Museum hosts the event the last Saturday in January each year, and I recommend it and other like occasions as excellent first steps towards understanding what one’s pieces are and what they are worth.

Email Henry Lane Hull at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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