Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

t’s unusual for serious collectors to find pieces that are truly lassified by experts as “important discoveries.” And, when it happens, there is usually a story that makes the public look twice at objects that have sat in a corner, unnoticed for generations. Such was the case in October when a group of Philadelphia siblings set about making preparations for the division and dispersion of the contents of their parents’ Main Line house.

Auction rooms around the country regularly see property from estates that have quadrupled in value over the generations.
Some pieces come to the block with high expectations based on previous auction records. In this case, there were no such expectations.
What the family did expect was an orderly process during which a practical division of the property would occur; some pieces would be left in the house to dress it up for the sale
of the real-estate, some pieces would go to storage for family members, and the “junk” would be filtered out for sale.

Enter a local man from a nearby auction house with an appraiser summoned by the estate lawyers to look at the “junk.” Luckily for the family, the appraiser had a keen eye and he immediately pegged the pie crust table that had sat in the corner unused for generations as “revolutionary.” He also mentioned that the table was worth more than the house they were going to sell and that it would be prudent to
contact the national auction houses post haste.

A family member recalled that, “The table
just sat there in the dining room, where we
ate every single night. My parents didn’t use
it even during dinner parties. I had no idea it
was significant. We had a whole house full of
traditional furniture.” Events moved quickly,
and within the week two Christies colleagues
showed up at the house in a limousine and
carefully wrapped the precious tea table up
and spirited it away to New York where its fate
would be decided in the October 3 Important
American Furniture, Folk Art and Prints sale.

The table (circa 1760), which history will recall as the Fisher-Fox Family Pie Crust Tea Table, estimated to fetch between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, was attributed by experts to “Garvan”, the unknown master carver from Philadelphia who worked in that city during the 1750’s and 1760’s.

Known solely for the distinctive carving found on furniture attributed to his
hand, Garvan’s style is distinguished by the pronounced boldness and vigor of the highly sculptural Rococo carving found on the feet, knees and scalloped edges of tables he executed. The Fisher-Fox Tea Table’s excellent condition, design and provenance (it descended in the same family for 250 years) made the table’s discovery one of the most exciting ever in the field of American furniture. When the fateful day came for the table’s turn on the podium it realized a staggering $6,761,000, a world record price for a piece of Philadelphia furniture, a pretty penny for a table that could have ended up in a local sale where one family’s “junk” could have become another person’s
very valuable treasure.


This Fisher-Fox family pie crust tea table,estimated to fetch between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, actually went for$6,761,000. The family had no idea of itsvalue and nearly cast into the estate “junkpile” before having a local appraiser look at it. (Photo courtesy of Christie’s)

Readers wishing to get in touch with Renee
can email: columns@washingtonlife.com.



Home  |   Where To Find Us  |   Advertising  |   Privacy Policy  |   Site Map  |   Purchase Photos  |   About Us

Click here to go to the NEW Washington Life Magazine