Might these needlepoint pictures and tapestries have value?
March 13, 2017 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I have an assortment of needlespoints and tapestries made by mother and grandmother that I can't keep. I'm trying to figure out if there is a better option than dumping them at the local thrift store.

When my mom moved to a board and care I closed up her apartment. There are sentimental items, items with a definite value that I can sell on eBay or craigslist, and a third category of things that seem like they should have some value, either monetary, historical, or artistic. This is one of them.

The needlespoints are probably 50-75 years old, some are framed, some aren't. Many were made in Belgium. They are all in excellent condition. The tapestries are more of a mystery. I have left them intact in their frames, but I can disassemble them if it would help ID them here. The frames, unfortunately, got banged up in the move.

If they have monetary value, where can I find some comparable selling prices? Ebay's sold listings isn't that helpful since the items, quality, and provenance vary wildly. If they're not worth selling, are there museums or libraries of some kind that might be interested in having them? Or, as special as they seem, should I just steel my heart and take them to goodwill?

posted by Room 641-A to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could run them by your local and/or state historical society, but do be prepared in case they say they're not historically significant. I'm not an expert on needlepoint but it does look as though they're based on commercial patterns, so they may not be uncommon in subject matter or quality. However, there might be interest from a local angle.
posted by Miko at 7:25 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might consider contacting a needlepoint or embroidery guild to see if they are interested or have advice. For example, here is a link to the Embroiderers' Guild of America website. My aunt is very active in the Richmond, VA chapter and I might be able to put you in touch with her if you're nearby.

I would probably go into this with low expectations. Needlepoint was extremely popular in the 20th century, and most people I know seem to have a few pieces in their family. That said, the ones you linked to are beautiful!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would try to sell them on eBay before you dump them at the thrift store. I'd be interested in the one with the stone arch and red roof.
posted by sulaine at 7:33 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

This totally seems like an Etsy thing to me. I would go to the Embroiderer's Guild first, esp. in reference to the tapestries, and then if it turns out some/all of them are not valuable, I would make an Etsy shop. It looks like "vintage needlepoint" goes from anything from $30-$100 and sometimes more. It's not much more difficult than eBay, as long as you're OK with the fact that they may take a little while to sell. Make sure to emphasise the "vintage" and "Belgian" aspects.
posted by cilantro at 7:50 AM on March 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Etsy etsy etsy. This is definitely etsy territory. They might not find buyers immediately but it's a good way of finding people who will actually love and value them.
posted by Acheman at 8:17 AM on March 13, 2017 [6 favorites]

Turn them over and look at the backs to try to determine if they started out in life as printed canvas. During the seventies printed canvas needlepoint kits were a big thing. Sometimes they came with wool or tapestry floss, sometimes you bought your own. The edge was usually printed with a row of squares showing the different colours used in the printing that you would need to buy. They may be basically the embroidery equivalent of paint by number. pictures.

If these needle points are from that kind of printed canvas they will not be worth a whole lot, as there were thousands or millions of them sold. I remember browsing the entire section in Sears, hundreds of canvases when my grandmother took us in and told us we could have a small one each. I picked a Tom and Jerry one. My sister picked a ballerina on black. Neither of us ever finished those two as they were our first, but I have a few others still that my mom, my oldest sister or I did finished, mine a decade later.

At this point you can pick up the printed canvas for twenty or thirty dollars each, not made up, more if you buy them new at Michaels. I am not seeing bids on e-bay for the completed kits but I do see them at the thrift store usually either very dusty, or faded, so I suspect the un-started kits are worth more than the completed ones.

Actual antique tapestries are quite a different thing and are definitely worth something, perhaps through an antique dealer. But not the hobby canvases. Those are likely to be worth more trouble and time to sell them than what you can get for them.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:15 AM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Remember that you could always make them into something else if you like them and want to keep them around -- pillows, seat cushions, I'm sure there's more stuff I'm not thinking of that doesn't include just hanging them on the wall.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:00 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm back, sorry, I've been mostly out of commission.

Thank you for all the valuable information! My biggest problem is that I can't store all this stuff in my tiny apartment; I have boxes of China and lace and silver and hand-knit clothes and haaalp! Since it's not my stuff I want to be respectful of disposing of moms things. Anything of obvious value was sold long ago, but if any of these things can help cover a little of my out-of-pocket costs for her board and care that's also a huge help.

The tapestries have been cut and mounted in the frame so there's nothing to go by there, but going by telephone exchange on the framer's label (TErrace 7-xxxx) they are probably pre-1960.

The smaller needlepoint also has most if the edges cut off, but it is a contemporary of the larger piece. The larger piece has a "Royal Paris" marking on one edge with the color legend on another. Those are probably from Beligium, so probably pre-1953-ish.

And of course, now I can't find the unframed needlepoints so I'll deal with those the same as these.

I uploaded photos of the canvases here.

fiercecupcake, that's a great idea but I've already donated a bunch of pillows :D

sulaine, I'll get in touch when I figure out the details

To the mefite who memailed me, your memailed is disabled but please contact me. Sorry it took so long to respond.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:36 AM on March 21, 2017

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