Dear Old Man:

Stuff January

Pie Safe

My wife and I bought this pie safe in an estate sale and paid $499 for it. Is it original and what is it worth? RR

Dear R R: Thank you for your letter. Your pie safe is known as a sixtin closet safe. I think it was made between 1800-1869, probably in Kentucky, Virginia, or Tennessee.

There are many styles of safes, ranging from closet, storage, tabletop and sideboard. You do not show the interior of the safe so I am assuming that it has three shelves on the top and two on the bottom. Sometimes, there are tins on the sides as well as the front and these are known as 12- tin safes. Most of the hardware looks original and the tins look in good shape, however, they have been cleaned.

From your picture, I think the legs have been shortened. While that is not unusual for this type of furniture, it would affect the value. Safes from this area are made of tulip poplar. There is an excellent book on the subject of safes called, “Opening the Door: Safes of the Shenandoah Valley” by Kurt C. Russ and Jeffery S. Evans published by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia.

Your safe looks to have its original finish. I think you won on this one. The $499 was not a bad price. If you look on eBay you will find closet safes sell for $1,000 to $1,400. Of course, that is a retail price. Estate sales are forms of liquidation and prices would be less.

Edward Tuten is the executive secretary of the New England Appraisers Association, his phone number is 901-8758-2659 and you can write him at 6973 Crestridge Rd., Memphis, Tn 38119

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