Why I Do The Research That I Do

by John Werry on June 5, 2008

kilian brothers pedestal neo grec Why I Do The Research That I Do

The stand above is a good example of why I read and research Victorian Furniture to the extent that I do. When I first started collecting Victorian Furniture it was only so that I could put furniture in my home (built in 1887) that was more befitting the house than what I already owned.

As I had no prior experience in antiques, I did some basic edumacating of myself on Victorian Furniture so that I wouldn’t get “had” when I went shopping. As I did more and more research, I learned that it became more of a passion for me than just a means of decorating “properly”. It doesn’t hurt that there is antique collecting in my DNA, handed down from my mom’s side.

My purpose in researching progressed beyond preventing me from being “had” and went on to amassing knowledge for the sake of helping me find good deals on hidden treasures. Very few of us have an unlimited budget for antiques and I wanted to maximize what that money could do for me.

The stand above is a recent example of this. The picture on the left represents the image from the listing, which was buried in the following two inappropriate and nondescript categories on Ebay:

Antiques & Decorative Arts > Other > Live Auction Seller
Antiques > Furniture > Tables, Stands > 1900-1950

In actuality, the table is ca. 1870 and not the 1900-1950 range that it was listed in. The description of the stand put it as “Egyptian Style”, which was also wrong. The photo was very dark and nearly monochromatic – another element of this listing that did nothing to help it gain exposure.

Fortunately for me, I was doing a broad search for furniture – not my usual highly-precise keyword searches – and I knew the profile of the stand immediately when I browsed by it – in spite of the quality of the photo. Here it was, in the wrong category, marked as 1900-1950, and with the wrong description and no mention of a maker. I was lucky to happen upon it and recognize it.

Fast forward to now; I’ve taken it home after having the winning bid and you can see the polychromatic paint on it (red, green, and gold) that wasn’t apparent from the original listing. I could have had it for half the price were it not for one other person who knew what I knew. The two of us doubled the next lowest bid.

We corresponded after the listing ended and I promised that I’d let the person know if I ever ran across another one like it. She congratulated me and told me how she had wanted a stand like it (by the maker) for quite some time. Although I didn’t get it for what “might have been”, it was still a reasonable price that I am happy with.

The stand is by Kilian Brothers and an identical one like this (in better, restored condition) is illustrated in the May 1999 issue of Magazine Antiques and is also in the c. 1870 Kilian Brothers catalog (which I wish I had). Mine is missing two of the chains that would have hung lower and directly from the two ends. If anyone knows where to locate replacement chains let me know. You can read the text from the May 1999 article here and learn more about the Kilian Brothers.

Back to my research …

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

drew49 June 5, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Great find, good eye. This is a great pedestal!

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