How Much are Great-Grandpa's Victorian Boot Fasteners Worth?
Experts evaluate these and other local treasures in the latest installment of our appraisal series.
TEXT BY SARAH STEBBINS
In the late ’70s, my parents worked for Ron Meyers, who owned an upholstery shop and antiques store in Westbrook. When she wasn’t sewing, my mom dusted the antiques. She fell in love with this marble clock and negotiated with Ron on the price. It sat on my parents’ mantel until they gave it to me in 2010. — Suzanne Knight, Gorham, Maine
“This is a fine example of a late-19th-century, French-made mantel clock,” says John Bottero, vice president of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, noting that its brass movement could run and chime for eight days on a single wind. The name on the dial references jeweler and silversmith William Senter, who sold metal finery, clocks, and nautical surveying instruments at his Portland shop from the 1850s through ’70s. Like many high-end jewelers of his era, Senter had his name printed on products ordered from abroad as a way of marketing his business.
Bottero’s appraisal: $200–$300
I inherited two paintings by Anne Carey Bradley, a friend of my great-grandmother’s in Fryeburg. They’re of my great-grandmother’s farmhouse, painted from slightly different angles. — Patricia Gagan Hayden, Flower Mound, Texas
Anne Carey Bradley (1884–1956) was often spotted peddling her bicycle around Fryeburg in bloomers and a wide-brimmed hat, art supplies strapped to her back. Born into a wealthy family, she had the luxury of spending full days on her plein-air paintings. According to Bruce Gamage, of Rockland’s Gamage Antiques, Bradley’s auction sales are all over the place. He has sold works for $110–$350 and notes that a garden scene once fetched $4,000 at Christie’s. “In the art business, it’s all about the subject the artist is known for and who wants it,” Gamage says. “She’s more known for her florals.” Being able to ID the location of the house portraits, however, increases their value.
Gamage’s appraisal: $200–$300 apiece
This Native American basket came from my parents’ Orono home. I’m not sure where or when it was acquired. It’s roughly 4 by 31⁄2 inches. — Joe Devoe, Nyack, New York
This simple 20th-century sewing vessel belongs to the basket-making tradition begun thousands of years ago by Maine’s indigenous peoples. Early utilitarian baskets became increasingly elaborate in the late 19th century, when members of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes started selling their creations to tourists. Woven from traditional ash splints and sweetgrass, the basket shows no breaks and minor fading, prompting Bottero to give it “a 9 out of 10 for condition.”
Bottero’s appraisal: $50–$75
My husband inherited these, along with a note from his great-grandmother: “Buttonhook for gaiters used by James A. Billings (your great-great-grandfather).” — Caitlin Adams, Denmark, Maine
From the late 18th century through the early 20th, “everyone had these,” Gamage says. Men’s and women’s boots sported dozens of buttons, and tight rows of fasteners also bonded gaiters, gloves, and clothing. Ranging from purely utilitarian to ornate, like these Victorian-era, carved-silver versions, the tools deftly pulled buttons through their holes. Though not especially valuable, the hooks are fun to collect, as members of England’s Buttonhook Society fan club would surely attest.
Gamage’s appraisal: $25–$50 for the pair
SUBMIT YOUR ITEM! Have a Maine-y curiosity you’d like to know more about? Send a photo and description to [email protected] and we may feature it in an upcoming column.