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A recent appraisal assignment brought me just inland from the sandy beaches of the New Jersey coast. After a long drive in open farmland (yes, I was still in New Jersey) and down a tree-lined sand-laden driveway, an old white clapboard farm house appeared beside an old rusty tractor that had spent many of it’s working hours tilling the surrounding fields.

After a brief introduction with the clients, I began what I refer to as detective work – to uncover the higher valued treasures and inform my client of their lucky inheritance. Besides the dusty antiques that stood alone waiting for companionship in this vacant home whose owner had recently departed, in the corner with the cobwebs, buried in old newspaper clippings, stood an old wooden bowl whose warm patina caught my eye in the angled rays of the early morning light.

This may well be the largest treenware bowl I have ever unearthed in an estate or set my eyes upon. Large early ash burled wood bowls are quite rare, and are therefore equally expensive when they enter the market. Ash burl is characterized by repetitive clusters of “eyes” appearing like concentric pools, unlike the flowing grain of Birdseye maple. A similar Iroquois double-handled bowl is in the Leigh Keno, New York collection.

I would date this early American bowl circa 1780-1800. Massive in stature, this bowl measures 15”h x 31”l x 25”. A similar, however smaller bowl (24 ½”l) realized $12,500.00 at Sotheby’s, New York on January 22, 2010. Due to rarity, this bowl could easily bring $20,000.00 at auction.

Early Iroquois Burled Ash Bowl, Ca. 1780-1800

A real treasure!