Venus is more than a celestial body; she’s one of the most popular classical figures in the history of art. The goddess of love and gardens gets a lot of press this time of year. In Renaissance art, Venus’ image adorned the headboards of the beds belonging to the famous Medici family of Florence. By the Victorian period, bronze sculptures of the classical beauty were all the rage. In the 1940s, pin-up girls were depicted in the famed Venus pose with palms slyly covering breasts.
Recently, I appraised a Belleek sculpture of a crouching Venus for 13-year-old Jess and her mom, Holly. Jess keeps the sculpture in her closet so her pets don’t get at it and her mom says that it is a good place to keep the sculpture safe. The piece was in fine condition, dating from the late 1800s, and didn’t have a scratch on it. The black mark on the underside of the sculpture was used by Belleek starting in 1891 and it indicated the age and origin of the piece.
In 1891, the McKinley Act became law in America. It indicates that the country of origin must be specified on goods imported into the United States. The Belleek firm complied with a new black mark that included a ribbon banner and the words “Co Fermanagh Ireland.”
Jess and her mom were shocked to learn that her sculpture was worth $10,000 to $15,000 on the retail market. Some similar pieces in only fair condition have sold at wholesale auctions for $5,000.
Some of the other notable antiques and collectibles that I appraised recently during my Antiques Appraisal Comedy Tour included:
• Pittsburgh: A $50,000 baseball signed by Honus Wagner from the early 1900s, when the Pittsburgh Pirates were the baseball team to beat
• Evansville, Ind.: An art deco diamond and gold brooch that belonged to 12-year-old Madison (she had just received it from her grandmother) worth $1,500
• Deal, N.J.: A ship model exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universalle in Paris complete with documents from the famous World’s Fair, found to be worth $3,000
• Charlotte, N.C.: A European miniature painting worth $8,000
• Rochester, N.Y.: A Dutch still life oil painting of flowers worth $100,000
• Akron, Ohio: A World War II Nazi dagger worth $800
• Indianapolis: A souvenir coin from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 (aka the Chicago World’s Fair) worth $250
• Philadelphia: An original “Birds of America” work of art by John J. Audubon in excellent condition, circa 1834 worth $30,000