What’s it Worth? Appraisal for Antique Grain Painted Chest of Drawers

Suzanna asks:

Hello Auction Wally,

This is a dump rescue so there are some conditions issues but I’m curious about it nonetheless.
I’ve done nothing to it yet except some dust and dirt removal.

Measures 43”w X 36”h X 24”d

It appears to be faux wood grain with much cracking and crazing on the darker portions. Under one of the missing pieces of hardware the finish is/was nicely varnished.

Underneath there is also fine dovetailing and can get a photo for you if need be.
Everything about the dresser appears to be original including the hardware.
All drawers and the interior are in good shape although there is a crack across the top of the dresser. The dresser is very heavy.
How would you recommend bringing some life back to this very functional piece?
If you need more info. please let me know.

Thanks very much for your service!

AW says: I love hearing stories about wonderful old pieces like this that have been saved from the dump! That’s a Victorian era grain painted, cottage chest of drawers. Back in the day, grain painting is how simple folk would “gussy up” a piece of plain furniture to make it look richer!

Not long ago, as near as the early 1980s, these were not considered something that would be collected by a purist as it was something that was trying to be what it was not.

Today, it’s a different story, and grain painted items are getting just due as wonderful American folk art, which it is.
Date range: 1860-1890
(top price)


Retail value:

Wholesale value: $250
(The midrange price you could expect to achieve at a well advertised live auction. The price that is most often realized)

Quick sale value: $150
The price your likely to get if you have to sell your item immediately and your prospective customer is aware of this.

Common terminology, nicknames, keywords: cottage chest, grain painted chest, chest of drawers w/ hand cut dovetails, victorian chest

In most cases, I believe it would be beneficial for your to give the prospective buyer a link to this page, and to bookmark it via your favorite bookmarking service.
Care and storage tips: The rub with this is there is not really anything you can do to restore the finish. And please don’t touch, oil or polish that wonderful old paint job, you’ll only destroy the value. Other than cleaning it with a damp cloth, I wouldn’t do anything.


If the drawers are sticky you can soap up the bottom of the runners.

What’s it worth? Appraisal of antique cameo pin

Karl asks: What can you tell me about this pin?

1.       Think it is over 100 years old
2.       Pin is in excellent shape.

antique cameoback of antique cameo brooch

AW says: That’s a beautiful hand carved Victorian era pin, or brooch. Many of these fillagree pins of this quality are set in gold, and because you’ve sent me very good pics of the back, I can see what I believe to be a 14k mark on the pin housing in the back.

That is, if you look where the tip of the pin enters the locked housing which is pictured to the left if you’re looking at the back of the pin, you can see what looks like the characters, 14k. When these are marked, that’s where they are usually marked.

Add to the value, I’d bet the pearls are real that adorn the outter and the diamond is very likely real as well.

If you look at your pin, and it is NOT marked, let me know, I’ll revise this appraisal, but for now, we’ll go with what looks to be obvious.

This is a circa, mid to late 19th century, antique hand carved cameo.

Retail value: $450

Wholesale: $300

Quick sale: $175

Keywords, fillagree, gold, cameo, victorian, hand carved

What’s it worth? Appraisal of Satsuma vase

I figured out that it done in the Satsuma style and that its probably not that old although he bought it form an antique store on the East Coast…

Kristen says:

Hi, I was only able to upload one picture of the vase. Please see below for more pics.  I want to purchase this vase from a friend 

 I figured out that it done in the Satsuma style and that its probably not that old although he bought it form an antique store on the East Coast.  I have seen this signature before on a vase that was not that expensive. This is a near mint condition vase and It’s a very camera friendly.   :-)

Thank you for your time.

satsuma style modern vasesatsuma style modern vase bottom

AW says: Your antique detective instincts are very good Kristen, this is a modern reproduction as per the mark on the bottom, but more importantly, the uniform crazing that we see in so many Asian antique reproductions these days.

The vase as you mentioned is in the Satsuma style, and the tiny raised dot pattern is a technique known as moriage.

Circa late 1900s, most likely after 1980

  • Retail value: $45-$65
  • Wholesale: $35
  • Quick sale: $25