Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • ON TV
  • SHOP
  • The Roadshow Archive

    Citizenship Document of George Barker

    Appraised Value:

    $3,500 - $5,000

    Appraised on: August 19, 2000

    Appraised in: Boston, Massachusetts

    Appraised by: Philip Merrill

    Category: Books & Manuscripts

    Episode Info: Jackpot! (#1116)

    Originally Aired: May 7, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Document
    Material: Paper
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $3,500 - $5,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (1:54)


    Appraised By:

    Philip Merrill

    Appraisal Transcript:
    APPRAISER: What could you tell us about this lovely document that you have here?

    GUEST: Well, I acquired the document tthrough the WGBH Auction in 1978.

    APPRAISER: Oh, my goodness.

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: And it was certainly before black memorabilia became popular.

    GUEST: The rage that it is today, yes. But because it was a certificate of citizenship
    for a person of color I personally felt it should belong to a person of color so I got the high bid.

    APPRAISER: If I may ask, how much did you pay for this in 1978?

    GUEST: I paid $75, which, at the time my mother thought was outrageous. ( chuckles ) It was well worth it. In retrospect, it wasn't outrageous.

    APPRAISER: I need to share a couple exciting things with you here. This is an important document that is showing George Barker-- the gentleman right here-- and he was born in 1788 and that he is
    a free person of color and a citizen of America. And, more importantly, it's showing descriptive information about his height--he's five foot two; he has a "sable" complexion
    and he has "woolly" hair.

    GUEST: ( chuckling ) Yes.

    APPRAISER: Is that just not indicative of the time period where they were describing African Americans with "woolly" hair?

    GUEST: Right, exactly.

    APPRAISER: The other thing that's exciting is that down here we have where it says
    "for the relief and protection of American seamen" "not having made provision for persons of color
    to obtain certificates of citizenship."

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: This document is so important. You have a wonderful seal right here. It's archivally framed. It's from Massachusetts. I've never seen something like this. With the genre of black memorabilia we get to see so many types of documents that are attributed to slavery. We get to see certificate of freedom, we see manumission writ of affidavit, bbill of sales, court casesBut it's very unusual to see a document of this significance concerning a free person of colorwhere it's all laid out in such exquisite form. We know his name, his height, his age and the notary public, we got the wax seal I mean, this document could not be more significant.

    Do you have any idea what it's worth?

    GUEST: Not a clue, just, uh...Yeah, no idea.

    APPRAISER: Just let me tell you. Scholars, collectors museums, libraries would eat this up.
    How about $3,500 to $5,000 for this document?

    GUEST: Oh, my God! That's unbelievable!

    APPRAISER: Now, is your mom still living?

    GUEST: She is, and she's going to be shocked!

    APPRAISER: Make sure you tell her that $75 many years ago was well spent.

    GUEST: That is amazing.

    APPRAISER: Thank you for sharing with the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

    GUEST: Thank you.

    APPRAISER: My pleasure.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube