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Antiques Considered - January 15, 2014

Recently a lady and her brother inherited several pieces of American Victorian parlor furniture.  The frames are walnut, and the condition of each piece is excellent.  The family members cannot use the pieces, and have asked how to value them for sale.

All of these pieces are nice examples of Mid-Victorian design, dating from the 1850s.  Unfortunately, they are worth less today than they were 40 years ago, due in part to the changing tastes of modern living.  In short, they would not be comfortable next month for watching the Super Bowl.  In addition, the poor economic conditions over the last five years have contributed to a decline in value for all but the highest levels of the decorative arts.20140115ac3

The sofa exhibits some very fine carving on its crest, indicative of the Mid-Atlantic to New York region.  Assuming it cannot be identified as to its maker, it is worth $500.  The red armchair is of a slightly later time, dating from the 1860s or 1870s, and is worth $125.

The marbletop coffee table has been cut down from its original height, which has affected its re-sale value adversely.  As is, it is worth less than $100.  Beginning in the 1940s, a trend of reducing Victorian tables to coffee table size spread across the country.  As a result, thousands of fine pieces were decimated in value, this being one of them. 

The two unmatched oval marbletop tables are worth $200 and $175, assuming they are structurally 20140115ac2sound.  The two parlor chairs are worth $90 for the one with arms, and $70 for the other.  

Victorian furniture by recognized craftsmen, such as Belter, Meeks or Herter, continues to sell quite well at very good prices, but the more available pieces such as the ones in this collection are in a slump, and have been for several decades.  Their day will return, but I do not expect significant market changes anytime soon.


    Happy Antiquing!

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