A Question from a reader: Tansu Cabinet


Q. I have a tansu chest i think it is very old. How can i get to know the value of it without dragging it to an antique shop?

A. In order to get the best idea of how to find the value, you may have to drag it out, but an antique shop may not be your best bet. If you were to go the antique shop route, you’d be wise to find one where you can be reasonably sure they have an adequate knowledge of Asian antiques.

Another route would be to hire an appraiser. You can find an appraiser with a knowledge of Asian antiques at the Appraisers Association of America web site.

If you don’t want to incur the expense of hiring an appraiser, you might consider sending a photo to an auction house that deals with Asian antiques. Skinner in Boston may be a good option.

I do not have much knowledge in the area of Asian antiques, but from some preliminary research it appears the smaller chests are generally more valuable than the larger clothing chests. Some of the most prized chests are apparently made entirely of something called keyaki wood or kiri wood. Auction records for tansu chests reveal a wide range of values from less than $100 to $30,000. Most fall in the range of $100 to $500. The only way to know for sure is to have someone knowledgeable in Asian antiques (ideally more than one) to look at it.

If anyone out there has any knowledge on this subject, please email us! If you have an items you’d like to write to us about, please send a photo and email to urbanantiques at gmail.com

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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