SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

The Silver Salon Forums
Since 1993
Over 11,793 threads & 64,769 posts !!
Silver Stories Forum
How to Post Photos REGISTER (click here)

customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  Silver Stories
tline3open  Bad Identification, Bad Appraisals

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Bad Identification, Bad Appraisals

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-02-2000 02:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

So I am watching "At The Auction", Leslie Hindman's auction and appraisal show on HGTV this morning, and I observe a stunningly bad appraisal. A woman brought in a family piece, a nicely engraved and engine-turned New York presentation snuff box, dated 1864. The camera clearly shows the marks, which are obviously the trademarks of Albert Coles, a relatively well known New York silver manufacturer from this time period. The "decorative arts specialist" says roughly that "the eagle mark is often found on German and Russian silver of this period, so it is most likely continental in origin". This is an expert appraisal? Bull____.

Unfortunately, this is not the only goof I have observed. In an auction of their's I found this lot:

Assembled set of 12 William IV Silver Water Goblets, London, 1832 by George Smith and GS WF, etc.

When I looked at this set, I immediately thought that the monarch looked like George III, not William, and that the Leopard head was from and earlier date cycle. Sure enough, the pieces had a crowned leopard head, where William IV pieces have an uncrowned leopard. The actual date was 1792, not 1832. George Smith III and William Fearn registered their GS WF mark in 1786, and the mark is clearly listed in the pocket edition of Jackson's Hallmarks. Fearn was in partnership with William Eley by 1797.

When I made this discovery, I owned about five pieces of English sterling. If I figured it out, why didn't they?

Here is another gem:

Two Gorham sterling silver ladles, having pierced scrolling foliate bowls, with S-curved acanthus and mask handles: 20 ounces (!) Estimate $ 150/250 (!)

I remember these as two MAGNIFICENT bonbonniere of almost museum quality. I wish I'd been able to bid on them, and I'd like to see what they are selling for properly identified!

Anyway, enough raving. It just goes to show that you can't always trust "expert" opinions. Even auction houses screw up, sometimes in ridiculous fashion. By the way, this was several years ago; maybe things have straightened up under Sotheby's direction.

IP: Logged

June Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 1223
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-05-2000 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We've seen a number of mis-appraisels on the Antique Road Show as well. It's disheartening when people hold themselves out to be experts when they are not. Part of being an expert, I think, is knowing when to say "I don't know, but I know how to find out." Maybe a lot of people feel it discredits them to acknowledge not knowing something that they think they should know. We all need to realize that we can't know everything and there is no dishonor in fessing up to that. It is much more harmful to an expert's reputation to be found out wrong than to admit upfront that you don't know. I think people respect the honesty.

IP: Logged


Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-05-2000 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sometimes it's accident, sometimes it's ignorance, but don't discount the tossing aside of ethics for the chance of personal gain -- there are several faces that won't be seen on Roadshows in future after it was discovered they were salting appraisals with their own goods or under-appraising goods that later found their way into inventory.

IP: Logged


Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-05-2000 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Which Road Show appraisals do you take issue with? I have a few of my own.

I took two pieces of Arts & Crafts metalwork, one by Liberty & Co. and one from the Keswick School of Art, to the Road Show in San Francisco. The appraiser was unable to properly identify the maker of either one. I found out the makers later on my own. To be fair, the metals appraiser was more of a sculpture expert. I think David Rago, the pottery expert, would have been able to do the ID, because he deals in Arts & Crafts.

When dealing with broad fields like silver or porcelain, it is impossible to expect anyone to be expert in the entire range. For example, I wouldn't expect an expert in Medieval silver reliquaries to know the value of a modern tea set, and vice versa. Experts should not be afraid to say "I don't know", if that is the honest answer.

For all of their entertainment value, I just don't think you can expect these mass verbal appraisal sessions to be flawless. You would think, though, that suspect appraisals would be caught before the final show is produced. Unfortunately, I am afraid that a lot of people have received misleading or false attributions on the Road Show and other similar shows. When the shows are viewed by millions, the problems just get compounded.

On the other hand, a major auction house, which can take some time to properly identify an object, should do so. I would think that the auction house owes at least that much to the consignors.

IP: Logged

Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-05-2000 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the Professional Silver Appraising Forum there is a relevant thread (a series of posts) entitled: you can't turn on the TV without seeing ...

IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a

1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.

| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2020 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices