Treasure: Tapestry good deal, even though it’s unsigned

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

‘I picked it up at a thrift shop,” Bloomfield Hills resident Michelle Fredericks told appraiser Brian Thomczek at a recent appraisal session at Troy’s Michigan Design Center. “I read somewhere that some tapestries are valuable, so before I get rid of it, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything good.”

Thomczek took a closer look at the Asian piece, identifying first that the frame is definitely 20th century. “It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t appear to be signed,” he told her.

He also identified the material as a silk screen, which makes it an example of works from Japan, he says. “It’s definitely not Chinese, unfortunately for you. Right now Chinese items are bringing very high numbers as the Chinese are buying items that had been exported back and returning them to China.”

That said, he continued, the Asian art market in general continues to be strong, which is a good thing for sellers.

“I’m not particularly experienced in Asian themes, but it looks to me as if the subject has some religious connotations,” he says. “One of the ways that I can tell that this is Japanese and not Chinese is that the Chinese often use animals and flowers.”

He said that the material would officially be considered multimedia, with glitter threads throughout used with layers of fabric and silk.

“It’s too bad the artist never signed it because it’s quite beautiful,” he told her.

He had additional advice for her if she chose to sell. “If you are going to sell it, you should leave it in the frame which is protecting it at the moment, he added. “That said, there is a chance that you could find a signature or additional information under the backing, but it’s hard to tell. “Sometimes these are signed and if so, that can make a world of difference in the price,” the appraiser added.

Even without a signature, the piece has value, he said, appraising it at $150-$250 at auction. “This is a nice size and very nicely done,” he told her. “Either way, it’s very decorative and you got a good deal at the thrift store.”

He had less good news for the second item she brought in, a pair of goblets that he said were probably originally part of a larger set. Fredericks said they belonged to her mother-in-law. Marked “Wilcox” and “1204” and “1209,” he said they may have once been part of a set of six or eight. Their value, he said, is mainly in their function and decoration.”

“Wilcox is an American maker and these have a nice swan design, but they’re not particularly valuable as a pair,” he said.

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item: Silkscreen tapestry and goblets

Owner: Michelle Fredericks, Bloomfield Hills

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: $150-$250 for silkscreen.