From the Worthologists’ Files: Cold Cast Bronze Figurine

One of the advantages of being an appraiser is the sheer volume of incredible things one comes across on a weekly basis. Not all are hugely valuable, antique, rare or even all that sought after. Many times their value is only sentimental, but they often come with priceless provenances. Our Worthologist file cabinet is a treasure chest of such items– appraisal requests from our clients ranging from stuffed aardvarks to folk art zithers, all of which I’ll cover here in this column.

The owners of this piece picked it up at a yard sale and had no idea what they had bought.

The owners of this piece said “We picked this figurine up at a yard sale, it was the only thing that looked old, the rest of the stuff was typical 1970’s- 90’s junk everyone has stashed in the their basement. It’s about 13 inches tall and appears to be bronzed resin or clay and is rather heavy for its size. She’s unmarked. We asked the owner about it, but he had no idea where it came from. Any help identifying would be greatly appreciated.” 

You were correct as to your guess about this piece being resin. Based on the images and description, this piece is fairly modern and is likely what’s called “cold cast bronze.” This one was cast using a plastic resin mixed with bronze powder that resembles bronze and even tarnishes to a degree as solid bronze.

Plastic resins can be grained and colored to resemble a great many natural materials and metals, such as ivory, bone, antler, pewter and bronze. For items where the material is unknown, there is a test for resin. It can be tested with a red hot needle applied to the underside of the base, which will melt resin products, but will have very little effect on the materials mentioned above.

Most of these pieces are Continental examples, primarily from Italy. Very few of them date before the 1960’s and values for them tend to be modest, as similar examples are still in production. A great many of them came originally with paper or foil labels, which tend not to stand the test of time very well. 

To give an idea of value, I’ve included below some comparable cold cast bronze figures from Worthpoint’s Worthopedia:

This Egyptian goddess statue brought $35 in June 2016.

This Native American Indian woman statue brought $79.00 in November 2016.

This Scales of Justice statue brought $64.10 in February 2013.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement. He can be reached through his website

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