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
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    Samuel Osgood Miniature Portrait, ca. 1790

    Appraised Value:

    $10,000 - $15,000

    Appraised on: August 21, 2004

    Appraised in: Portland, Oregon

    Appraised by: Alan Fausel

    Category: Paintings & Drawings

    Episode Info: Politically Collect (#1219)
    Portland, Hour 1 (#913)

    Originally Aired: April 18, 2005

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 1  

    More Like This:

    Form: Miniature, Painting, Portrait, Watercolor
    Material: Ivory
    Period / Style: 18th Century
    Value Range: $10,000 - $15,000

    Related Links:

    Article: An Overview of Current Ivory Law
    ROADSHOW has worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create this summary of current law governing the import and sale of elephant ivory.

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


    Appraisal Video: (2:12)


    Appraised By:

    Alan Fausel
    Paintings & Drawings
    Vice President Director of Fine Arts

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: This is a miniature portrait of Samuel Osgood.

    APPRAISER: Right.

    GUEST: He was my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, first postmaster general of the United States under Washington.

    APPRAISER: And how did you know that?

    GUEST: Just what family has told me and documentation that's in the little folder here.

    APPRAISER: These little... they tell you exactly who it is?

    GUEST: Right.

    APPRAISER: It's actually a watercolor on a very thin sliver of ivory, and that's how portrait miniatures were done. This took the place of your photo in the wallet, you know. A miniature would be something you'd take with you of your relative, your loved one. And another thing they did to personalize it, on the back, they would put a, um... lock of your loved one's hair. The hair is braided in quarters. You see this hair is very brown, but when you turn it around, we can see that this brown hair is actually very gray. It's not that he was gray, but this was the powder in his hair. They would powder their hair much like they powdered a wig. But it's a very personal memento. Do you have any idea of who did it?

    GUEST: I don't.

    APPRAISER: Well, one of the things you may want to do at some point is take it to a jeweler, and they can pry that open, the gold rim around there, and take a look at the back. If it's signed, that might tell you...

    GUEST: It would be on the back?

    APPRAISER: Yeah, who the artist might be. This is a very important piece of American history. Osgood is the first postmaster general to George Washington. He's a member of the Continental Congress, and he led a regiment of militiamen at Lexington and Concord, so he has a very long history through the Revolution and into the succeeding administration. He then moved on to New York and became a member of the state assembly and supervised the internal revenue for the district of New York, so he was a very important fellow. I would say, without any artist, just because this is Samuel Osgood-- we have absolute provenance and it's your history, we know who it is-- I would say this would be worth about $10,000 to $15,000.

    GUEST: Really?

    APPRAISER: Now, if you identify the painter of this, an important early American miniaturist, it could be as much as $5,000 or $10,000 more, maybe $15,000 to $20,000.

    GUEST: Wow. That's wonderful.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 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