Pricing The Past

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In recent years Pine Street has become the center of Philadelphia’s antiques market, and the shopkeepers there would give a great deal to be able to visit a store that must have been the object of considerable ridicule to their turn-ofthe-century forerunners. It stood at 1237 Pine, but we have no record of what the owner called it, or even of his name. Yet, as this photograph attests, he was something of a pioneer. Most of his stock anticipates by a good half century the recent boom in folk art.

We asked Harris Diamant, owner of New York City’s Diamant Gallery, and a leading dealer in American folk art, to appraise the items in the picture. “I’m astonished by this photograph,” he said. “The serious collecting of this material didn’t begin until twenty years ago. While the only object which would be regarded as truly exceptional in today’s market is the Turk (number 9), it is nonetheless extraordinary that this visionary would have assembled in 1910—contemporary with most of the objects—an inventory that far surpasses anything that can be found on today’s Pine Street.” His estimates:

  1. 1, 6, 11: Conquistador architectural ornaments: $750-$1,000
  2. 2. Ethan Alien trotting-horse weathervane: $1,000-$1,200
  3. 3. Ship model: $500-$1,000
  4. 4. Fishmonger’s trade sign, if carved wood: $700-$900
  5. 5. Double-arrow copper weathervane: $850-$1,000
  6. 7. Cast-iron toy train, if complete: $1,500-$2,500
  7. 8. Elk’s clock: $1,000-$1,200
  8. 9. Turk tobacconist’s figure, $20,000$-25,000
  9. 10. Ship model: $300-$500
  10. 12. Bear, if carved wood: $700-$900
  11. 13. Winged dog, carved-stone architectural ornament: $300-$400
  12. 14. Carved cigar-store Indian: $8,000-$10,000
  13. 15. Funerary figure, possibly cast zinc: $1,500-$2,000
  14. 16. Seated figure, if carved wood: $1,000-$1,500
  15. 17. Saluting cannon: $500-$700
  16. 18. Cast-iron urn: $400-$500
  17. 19. Cast-iron settee: $1,000-$1,200
  18. 20. Saddler’s horse, if carved wood: $8,000-$10,000
  19. 21. Cast-iron urn: $500-$700 Grand total: $48,500 to $62,200