People buy antiques for many different reasons. Christine Panyard was traveling in Italy and looking to purchase something special to celebrate the publication of a book she wrote on Michelangelo, she told Mary Kossarek of DuMouchelles at a recent downtown appraisal session.
“I was in Sicily about four years ago and had just gotten my first royalty check,” she told the appraiser. In Taormina, a footed tray caught her eye on the way to dinner. When she walked by again later, it was still there and she decided it was fate. “I concluded that it was meant for me,” she wrote in the original email to the column asking for an appraisal and more information. “It was very heavy and limited the number of souvenirs I could carry home. I paid approximately $300, which is probably too much. I was flush from my first royalty check from Paulist Press and thought it would be a fitting splurge.” Her book, “The Sistine Chapel: A Biblical Tour,” was published in 2013.
The footed tray with handles has motifs that include grapes and wheat. The hallmark on the bottom is a pair of wings surrounding the letter “S.” The wings are surrounded by dots. “Peltro 95 %” and “Etain 95 %” are stamped on the handles.
“It was very heavy, so it was a chore to lug it around Italy,” Panyard told Kossarek. Kossarek told her that “Peltro” is the Italian word for Pewter and that “Etan” is the French word for tin, leading her to confirm that the piece was indeed made somewhere in Europe. “The existence of the French word leads me to think that it may have been mass-produced, however,” she told Panyard. “These languages and marks were generally used after World War II, which would make me date this to somewhere between the 1940s and 1960s.”
Unfortunately, the appraiser had little luck with the maker’s marks or tracing the hallmark to a particular manufacturer. “Pewter marks can be especially difficult,” she told her. “If these were sterling marks, it would be much easier and the piece would be worth quite a bit more.”
She added that pewter is beautiful and durable, and can be a great place to start for collectors looking for something not avidly pursued or available at a more reasonable price point. “It’s more eclectic, and you can sometimes find a wonderful piece at auction that is overlooked,” she added.
She thinks that the footed tray was cast in a mold, and mused that it could be related both to Demeter and Dionysus or the Eucharist. She thinks that it was intended to be a fruit bowl or a centerpiece for a table, and estimated its value at auction at approximately $100 at auction, which is similar to a wholesale price.
“It’s a very nice piece but isn’t particularly old by European standards,” she said. “It’s well made and will last a long time, so it could be something you could pass down and one day it will be antique.”
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About this item
Item: Pewter footed tray
Owned by: Christine Panyard
Estimated value: approx. $100
Appraised by: Mary Kossarek, DuMouchelles