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Antiques Considered - February 12, 2014

One of the more intriguing items that we saw at the Saint Clement’s Island Museum Appraiser Fair two weeks ago was this desktop bookshelf marked “Tiffany.” The wood is a burl walnut, albeit with a couple of minor chips to the veneer, and the ormolu decoration in neo-classical motif is especially fine.

The piece dates from the early twentieth century, and is in excellent condition.  The name Tiffany by itself signals a value beyond that of the products of its contemporary competitors.  The question at hand is whether the piece comes from Tiffany and Co. or Tiffany Studios, the decorative arts firm founded by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

In this case the shelf came most likely from Tiffany Studios, and probably was once part of a larger desk set that included a lamp. blotter pad, inkwell, pen set, stamp holder, paperclip holder, and possibly as many as 15 other items. The most famous of the many Tiffany Studio patterns was that of the Zodiac.

This piece appears to be in the Spanish pattern, one of many that Tiffany produced, this one being in smaller quantities than most of the other designs.  Obviously, given its diminutive size, this shelf was intended to hold those books that the owner was reading at the time.

Today Tiffany Studios items remain very popular on the market, complete desk sets sometimes going for as much as $15,000.  Collectors enjoy putting sets together, and today with the benefit of the Internet one does not have to search as far for individual pieces.  A completed desk set, having all the identified pieces, in this pattern easily could be in the $15,000. range.

I recommend against attempting to repair the minor chipping of the veneer. Repairs would show, and call attention to the damage, slight though it is, thereby being a distraction to the overall visual impression.
Happy Antiquing!

Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc.
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Wicomico Church, VA 22579
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