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Antique Appraisals: Image preservers valued at $40 apiece

Complimentary antique appraisals (for entertainment purposes only) from the Antique Trader staff of appraisers is a service reserved exclusively for Antique Trader magazine subscribers. But that doesn't mean you can't learn from recent appraisals.

By Dr. George Marchelos

Appraisal Inquiry:

I have a question for one of your experts. The frames of these photos are marked Holmes, 289 Broadway. In my research I have discovered a Silas A. Holmes, pioneer American photographer 1839-1860. Apparently he produced photographs as well as daguerreotypes. He patented the stereoscopic camera in 1854 as well. Can you please tell me if the pictures are by Holmes, and the approximate value. Sincere appreciation!

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— D.S.


D.S. has asked about her “photographs” which are in frames marked Holmes. The frames are actually preservers, which were thin frames of malleable brass placed around the plate mat and cover glass of a cased photograph to hold them securely. They were introduced in 1849 when Holmes was active as a photographer. These have value in their own right as collector items sought by those who collect cased photographs.

The images, however, are not photographs by Holmes. Although there were a few experimental color photographs toward the end of his career the image in the preservers are on wool pulp which was not used until the 1870s. Without closer scrutiny under magnification it is not possible to exactly date the images but they are later. There do not appear to be any mats present in this collection so the value is in the preservers themselves.

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Market values vary in different geographical regions but these should easily bring $40 each. They are of the period and from the Holmes studios.

Appraisal Inquiry:

Hello I have this table and I’m currently re-staining the top ... just curious about what era its from and value? It is 34” around and has tiny metal wheels.

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— V. H., via email


V. H. has asked about a table being stained. I am sorry to hear about the staining. Refinishing often destroys value. This particular table might have been refinished before, however, which would render that a moot point.

Overall the table appears to be factory made, which, with its scaled down design and accents would indicate that it came from the 20th century, probably around World War II, before or after. The casters, however, are interesting because they are to one side, indicating an earlier use on a table from the 1800s. It is possible they were reused and the table was especially made.

Close examination of the casters would reveal if the construction materials and method of manufacturing is earlier during the craft man period before mass production, or if these were made later from the earlier design.

The photo does not allow for this exam so the answer is not known using available data. With this said, the table would have to be sold as used furniture and the value would be only a few hundred dollars. If the casters are found to be originals from the earlier era then they alone at an architectural antiques business would bring much more. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites. 

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