Religious Objects at Estate Sales

Okay, so maybe you won’t find this at an Estate Sale

Enameled Champleve Tabernacle from Limoges

What: Enameled Champleve Tabernacle from Limoges.

Sold By: Sotheby’s.

Item Description: This Enameled Champleve Tabernacle is from Limoges: Late 12th to early 13th century. Square with pyramidal top, dark blue ground is decorated with various colored rosettes, small circles, crosses and horizontal bands.

Sale Price: $601,000.00

My Notes: Truly rare and wonderful, a feast for the eyes as well as the soul.

Alert: While I don’t think you will find something as grand as this at an estate sale, I do think that there are many fine and spectacular religious artifacts whose value is little understood outside of the major auctions houses.

Be on the look out for the countless small items of worship, that are to be found from time to time at some of the smaller regional auction houses.

Research Resource: Prices for Antiques.Com

Virgin Mary Plaque with Amethyst, Diamonds, and Agate

Virgin Mary Plaque with Amethyst Diamonds and Agate

What: Virgin Mary Plaque with Amethyst Diamonds and Agate

Sold By: Skinner’s

Item Description: Carved amethyst profile of the Virgin Mary, set within a circle of rose cut diamonds, all mounted on an agate plaque.  Circa 1920′s. On an 18k gold stand.

Sale Price: $2,703.00

My Notes: This is just so perfect, a small (It’s only 2.5″ tall) and beautiful framed devotional object. Likely an object displayed on a dresser or in some collectors cabinet and not really thought about for years.

Alert: Assume first that what you are looking at may in fact be made from precious materials. Religious items are not always the first thing that is looked at by dealers making a mad rush into an estate sale, or even by bidders at some of the smaller auction houses.

Research Resource: Prices for Antiques.Com

17th Century Reliquary Cross of Bronze, Silver and Ebony

17th century  reliquary cross of bronze silver and ebony

What: 17th Century Reliquary Cross of Bronze, Silver and Ebony.

Sold By: Sotheby’s

Item Description: This 17th Century crucifix is a cross inset with 9 relics, likely from various saints. Each relic is surrounded by small semi-precious stones; all on an ebony cross capped with silver terminals.

Sale Price: £3,750

My Notes: This reliquary cross is larger than most that I have personally seen, being 8,5″ long. My guess is that if you find something like this at an estate sale or auction its value may be understood. Still if a reasonable purchase price can be negotiated, this is the type of item that will garner wide spread interest on your own on-line store or even perhaps eBay.

Alert: Relics and reliquary in general make some people squeamish. Care and respect should be taken in how you negotiate for their purchase and how you subsequently market them.

Research Resource: Prices for Antiques.Com

Carved Ivory Bishop “Triptych”

Carved Ivory Bishop Triptych closed Carved Ivory Bishop Triptych

What: Carved Ivory Bishop Triptych (circa 1850′s)

Sold By: Sloan’s

Item Description: A 19th century Continental carved ivory triptych in the form of a bishop with staff and hands joined in prayer, which opens to a highly detailed scene of the Virgin and Child flaked on each side by various saints.

Sale Price: $ 1,725.00

My Notes: One of the things that I make up about this piece, is that its construction suggest an altar or devotional piece that was made to travel.

Alert: When purchasing any ivory, always note that ivory is sometime difficult to sell internationally due to various bans on the sale and importation of ivory. If the ivory piece in question comes with certification from an appraiser, that it is a true antique, then its sale internationally can proceed more smoothly. Always check with local and international laws.

Research Resource: Prices for Antiques.Com

Religious Articles, are historical, interesting and yes, they are sometimes very profitable…

There are countless other small and modestly priced religious items to be found at estate sales and auctions. And while their values may not always be understood by the estate sales professional or the aucctioneer of a regional auction house, they are understood by collectors worldwide.

Good Luck

Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"


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