10 Apr 2021
April 20, 2011 - Filed under: Antiques on TV — Richard

The strange “scatman” auctioneer-speak on US series Auction Kings can be a puzzle to understand for viewers in places like Cumbria. However, for one hopeful owner hoping to get $75,000 (£45,800) for an antique chest, the message was clear: $1500 was a more likely estimate. In the end the owner had to put up with seeing their 17th century heirloom skiddle-addle under the hammer for $1400 (£846).

An antique chest of this sort in Lancashire with this quality would certainly sell well at auction. Furnished with finely detailed carving, which included the date it was made, 1693, it was in exceptionally good condition. Even so, it would only make its owner a five figure sum if it had exceptional provenance, or carried the name of a famous designer. You might realise £48,000 for a Gillows antique chest in Lancashire , but not one by an unknown cabinetmaker.

The reason for the American seller’s high asking price was the belief the item might be a rare bridal “dowry chest”, produced by a master craftsman in the days of the Pilgrim Fathers. However, this could not be proven. Although there was no doubt the piece was old, and the date probably genuine, it had no provenance and had undergone modern restoration work. It was decided the chest was probably an artisan piece, made to show off the prowess of its maker, and neither a dowry chest or the work of a master craftsman. With this in mind the hammer price was reasonable.

If you see a 17th century antique chest in a Preston antique dealers, look upon it as a lucky find, as such pieces are becoming increasingly rare in England.

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