Collecting Treasures: Don’t ever think that an old, dingy item sitting in Grandma’s house or in the garage is worthless
Recently, one of our clients contracted us to sell the contents of his home, which is nothing new since we pick up hundreds of estates every year. But this home down in central Phoenix had something special that the owner wasn’t aware of.
Sitting on the corner of a cabinet, right next to the door heading to his carport, sat a Daum Nancy Art Nouveau table ampamp.
Now, most people wouldn’t think anything about this old lamp sitting there other than it’s obviously old. Looking at it, it would be hard to imagine that it was worth thousands of dollars. But in fact, this rare antique sold for a whopping $25,300 at our auction late last month.
The amazing story behind this lamp starts with our consignor’s wife, who bought the lamp years ago. Her name was Nancy, and so of course she had to have a lamp that was signed Daum Nancy.
They had no idea of its value, and probably didn’t realize Nancy refers to Nancy, France. This is where the famous glass factory was based and took on the name Daum Verrerie de Nancy after an attorney, Jean Daum, took possession of it in the late 1800s in lieu of repayment on a debt.
Daum’s sons get credit for introducing etched Art Nouveau cameo glass at the Chicago World Fair in 1893.
And while Daum Nancy still produces beautiful crystal glass today, the Art Nouveau lamps, such as our consignor’s lamp, are no longer being produced as they were only produced from about 1895 to 1914.
Test of time
Most of these lamps were done in some type of a landscape scene and hand-painted by very talented artists, so no lamp was ever the same. There was a bulb under the shade as well as inside of the base, so when the lamp was turned on in a low-lit room, the beautiful hand-painted scene was illuminated. It’s not like anything you see in today’s newly manufactured lamps.
What’s even more remarkable is that this lamp stood the test of time. It had been through moves and years of sitting on the end of a cabinet right next to a door. It could easily have been bumped off and broken when entering or exiting the home.
So, as I’ve said many times before, don’t ever think that an old, dingy item sitting in Grandma’s house or in the garage is worthless, as many things from days gone by have values that you might never expect.