Belter Bidding War

by John Werry on March 1, 2009

belter scroll pattern chairs Belter Bidding War

This video is from a 2006 Antiques Roadshow video appraisal done on this pair of John Henry Belter scroll pattern armchairs where the buyer paid $7,000 for them – a result of a heated bidding war where the thrill got the better of him.  I’m a bit more taken aback by the $4,000 to $6,000 auction estimate given by J. Michael Flanigan as their current value, “and I’ve talked to a number of the other appriasers who are auctioneers”.

Today that value is a pipe dream, but even in 2006, it was rare to see a pair of simpler Belter design armchairs break $3,000.  Many of the more elaborate patterns had problems reaching that price range for a pair of armchairs.

It makes me wonder.  Was Flanigan sympathizing with the owner’s $7,000 mistake and letting him down easy with a value just below what he paid?  Or is AR generally overly-generous with their valuations?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

james conrad March 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Well, i think he was letting him down easy and giving a retail store price in 2006. This kind of thing happens ALOT at auction, particularly among folks who are just beginners and buy on emotion rather than knowledge.

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RareVictorian March 1, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Actually, he specifically said, “if you were to put this back up at auction….everyone (the auctioneers he spoke to) agrees that their auction estimate would be $4,000-$6,000″.

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james conrad March 2, 2009 at 4:52 am

LOL, Yeah, Well, thing is, its a TV show afterall, which means its primarily entertainment with some info thats good, some not so good.

I remember an episode where a lady had a period Queen Anne colonial highboy in cherry that was refinished . Keno told the woman it was gorgeous , fabulous, bla bla bla and it was worth $30,000 BUT, if she had not had it refinished it would be worth $120,000. ALL BS, how could he possibly know the condition of chest and value prior to refinishing? He couldnt, because he never saw it then.

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john hopper March 2, 2009 at 5:59 am

The UK Antiques Roadshow tends to quote estimates for ‘insurance purposes’, while the actual auction estimate is usually only about a third of that quote, though I’m sure most of those who watch the programme believe that a great chunk of dark Victorian furniture, for example, which is nearly impossible to sell in UK auction houses at the moment because of their size and unfasionability, would instantly be bought for £3000 plus.

However, it is TV and to throw around wildly inacurate quotes and have close ups of amazed members of the public, is part of the show. I suppose as long as we are aware of that, it’s fairly harmless entertainment.

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woodwright March 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

We got tickets & went to the Antiques Roadshow in Hartford Connecticut last summer, it was quite an experience. It was a 5 hr drive there & 5 hrs. back, we had tickets for a 2 PM admission. We had (3) 19th Cent. painting in nice frames and a pair of silk prints to be appraised. We got in and waited in a long line in a large hall for 1 1/2 hrs to get to the generalist table to get a ticket to the appropriate table/ appraiser – then we waited for another 4 + more hours in a line for paintings (it was the longest of all of the lines – some were fairly short – it depends how poular your category is). Many people in line had what looked like garage sale art – I guess they were hoping to have hit the lottery w/ thier art work. I think many were grossly dissapointed after a 5+ hr. wait. We left the convention center about 9 PM. We learned a little about our art – but expected & hoped for a lot more information. They couldn’t give us a real price – but rather an idea/ range.
The art appraisers were all on laptops searching the internet for information/ comparable sales/ prices realized. Many people we talked to said they didn’t find out much about their item – one woman said she knew more about it than her appraiser. It’s hard to know everything about everything – but we expected more. It’s not like what you see on TV. What you see is the polished, edited version of an appraisal for something unique that appraisers are knowledgable about, or have concurred about and are well informed and had/ took the time to go into the item in depth. The programs they passed out said that the typical turnout is 5-6,000 people/ venue (2 items each) = 10 – 12,000 items in one day. Typical appraisal lasts 2 minutes (they don’t have a lot of time to spend on each) – a very long wait for a quick 2 min. appraisal. We had some unique items, and after we told the guy we drove 5 hrs and stood in line for over 5 hrs – he sent us to a specialist and we got more than a 2 minute appraisal. The Keno brothers both looked at one of our frames and a producer came over to talk to us – but in the end we didn’t go on TV – which is ok w/ us – it would have made the wait even longer. Not sure we’d do it again – but it was an experience for sure. woodwright

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Diane March 2, 2009 at 10:13 am

The appraisal for an auction value is ‘way high, especially for one of the simpler patterns. There is an expression for those who get carried away at auction, “More money than sense”, and the auction world loves those dear souls!

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John Hutchinson March 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

I don’t own a gun because of the Antiques Roadshow!
John, RVR

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Charles March 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm

After reading woodwright’s experience at the ARS, I am kinda glad I did not get tickets in their lottery last summer for their Chattanooga version!

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woodwright March 3, 2009 at 12:25 am

We had applied for tickets a couple times before – but never were selected. A couple we were talking to said they had a lot of different family members apply – knowing that not all would be selected, but by doing so increased the odds of getting any tickets.
If you do go – my advice is to take the earliest admision possible (they will ask you for your preference for admission time – we chose the afternoon because we had a 5 hr. drive – we also squeezed in a quick stop @ Mark Twain’s house museum on the way also in Hartford – (it’s not in the same class as the Lockwood Mathews Mansion in Norwalk Conn. – it is truly gorgeous and highly recomended) – but Twain’s house is very nice and worth visiting. Just like going to the doctor’s or dentist’s office – the latter in the day you get there, the more backed up it will probably be and the longer your wait will be too. I took pictures of the sea of people in the hall waiting to get in, but can’t post them in this response. woodwright

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