Was Graham sitting on a fortune? Sadly, not. His ‘treasure’ is worth NOTHING

PUBLISHED: 09:36 22 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 22 April 2019

Karen's cabinet

Karen's cabinet


Antiques expert Mark Fraser had bad news for reader Graham but slightly better tidings for Karen and Sue

Sue's decanter labelSue's decanter label

Q: My parents bought this cabinet from a very good antique dealer some years ago, and it has taken pride of place in their lounge ever since. What would it be worth today? 
Karen, Sprowston.

A: What a beauty! This is fine example of late Victorian/Edwardian 'Sheraton Revival' furniture, almost certainly by Edwards and Roberts, whose workshops were to be found in Wardour Street, Soho. Your lovely piece would have been made at the point when the company were recognised as perhaps the finest cabinet maker in the country and there was certainly nobody producing better quality inlaid mahogany furniture in the style of Thomas Sheraton than Messrs Edwards and Roberts. Unfortunately the display cabinet in itself has fallen out of favour in recent times, so a lot can be bought for your money. However, a stunning example such as this should still fetch between £800 - £1200.

Q: This has been in my family for as long as I remember. We think it's made of bone. Is it worth much? 
Graham, Thorpe St. Andrew

Graham's desk thermometerGraham's desk thermometer

A: Ooh, here's a contentious one! This is a desk thermometer, dating from around 1900. The nickel base would once have been silver plated, but this has now worn off after 100 years of polishing. Twenty years ago I would have been telling you that it was a desirable piece that would achieve between £250 and £350.However, today it's worth... absolutely nothing!

Why? Well I'm sure many readers will have worked out that it is in fact not bone, but formed from an elephant tusk, and with the laws about to change drastically, it will mean that with a few exceptions, all ivory will basically become worthless. In actual fact your piece has been illegal to sell for some years now, simply because it isn't 'worked', but very soon even if it was carved into an entirely different form, it will become persona non grata, so to speak. There are exceptions of course, but there isn't room in this column to go into too much detail. However piano keys for instance are ok. And this is because the percentage of the material making up the piece in question is very small. I'll perhaps go into more detail soon in a blog on my website, so look out for that. In the meantime, be aware that you can own your thermometer quite legally and you can also give it way as a gift. But sadly, you cannot sell it.

Q: I picked this label up at a car boot sale several years ago. What can you tell me about it? Sue, Dereham.

A: What a great car boot find! With gin being the drink of choice for so many in 2019, it may surprise you that it was equally as 'trendy' in the Britain of the late 18th Century, which is when this charming little enamel decanter label was made in Staffordshire. These labels whether in silver or enamel are highly collectible, and there would be no shortage of takers if this was to come onto the market, particularly given the aforementioned current love for Mother's Ruin. It's actually quite thought provoking that this was made not long after William Hogarth's notorious engraving Gin Alley shocked the nation. Google it! Although not worth a tremendous amount of money, I would expect it to reach perhaps £100 or so.

If you want to have your own treasures valued by Mark, please email a picture of the item and he will tell you what it's likely to fetch at auction. Any information you can tell us about the item will help. Contact Mark via me at

More about Mark Fraser

Mark Fraser has been firmly entrenched in the world of art and antiques for over 35 years. He has valued and catalogued literally hundreds of thousands of items from furniture, clocks, silver, paintings, ceramics, glass, toys, books, records and everything in between. He is relocating to Norfolk in June to start his own business as an Independent Valuer undertaking professional valuations for probate/IHT, insurance and family division. Appointments can be made from mid-June onwards. His website is:

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