Some of the most prized antiques are handmade family heirlooms that have been passed down through the generations. And some of the best have been collected by Francesca de la Flor, one of America's most respected antique dealers.
But Francesca has one item you might not give a second look!
"The next time you're at a flea market and you see what looks like a junky old box, grab it," says Francesca. "It could be, and probably will be if it's old enough, an early American Bible box."
Bible boxes were commonly used in colonial America to protect bibles and other family keepsakes from vermin like mice and rats.
"It's been put together with handmade nails and handmade hinges," says Francesca.
Hand-forged hinges and square head nails are keys to its age. Francesca has found one that's about 200 years old.
"There's been damage to this piece, and the repair was done with handmade nails," says Francesca. "This repair is probably about 100 years old, so it doesn't detract from the box's value. The piece has its original lock, which is unusual but great to find. "
Another thing to look for when trolling a flea market for an antique bible box is the size.
"The size is going to be significant. A little box is not a bible box. A bible was a fairly large book. It probably measured somewhere in that 12-to-14 inches high and maybe 9-to-10 inches wide. It was probably 3-to-4 inches deep. You needed a relatively large box to hold it," adds Francesca.
So if you ever see an old wooden box at a swap meet or garage sale – grab it! It just might be a valuable treasure.
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