When the American Queen Steamboat led the Travel Section of the New York Times on Sunday, June 3, one thing not mentioned was the decor, which is heavy with antiques. At least one item is so valuable that it hardly seems fit for a river boat, says David J. Goldberg, the New Orleans appraiser who did a complete insurance appraisail of the ship's antiques and collectibles prior to its inaugural six-day round-trip voyage from New Orleans to Vicksburg. The item he refers to is a unique Victorian circular center table valued at $60,000.
Goldberg, Director of The Appraisal Group of New Orleans, described the table as having a white marble top that is over six feet in diameter. It is supported by elaborate mahogany carved scrolling legs. Says Goldberg, "It was the most surprising portion of the appraisal."
The appraiser surmises the table was shipped to New Orleans from England in the latter part of the 19th Century. Its placement on the American Queen returns the table to gracious quarters and gives it a new life on the largest and most lavish steamboat ever built. The American Queen was built in 1995 by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company and cruised the Mississippi before coming upon hard times in 2008. After the United States Maritime Administration took custody of the ship, HMS Global Maritime formed The Great American Steamboat Company to acquire and re-launch the American Queen. It was during the retrofit that the antiques were acquired, the table among them. According to Mr. Goldberg, its worth was unknown to the owners before his appraisal.
Goldberg, a member of The Certified Appraisers Guild of America, is becoming known as the appraiser who “identifies the hidden gems”, even during routine appraisals. He was responsible in 2010 for uncovering an Albert Bierstadt painting of the American Northwest in an historic home in eastern Texas and shepherding it through an auction where it fetched over $100,000. The owner had previously been told the oil painting was worth about $2,500. Even more recently, Goldberg identified a painting of a Louisiana bayou by Southern regional artist William H. Buck. The painting was then sold through Goldberg to a private collector for $300,000. A 1970s tag on the rear of the frame noted the painting had once been offered for merely $75.
While there are no plans to sell the Anglo-Indian center table, passengers on The American Queen's Mississippi River voyages will be able to enjoy its splendor, knowing that they are being treated to the finest money can buy.
Mr. Goldberg, who holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, has more than thirty years experience appraising art and antiques. He also owned and operated one of the South's most well known auction houses and taught a course in the appraisal of antiques at Tulane University for more than a decade.
For more on New Orleans appraiser David J. Goldberg, please visit The Appraisal Group