Boston Automobile Posters, ca. 1905
Appraised Value: $5,200 - $7,800 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 6
Appraisal Video: (3:48)
Prints & Posters
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: I managed to save these out of a garage that was being demoed. These were in the way back, and they got some water damage, but they're here today. I don't know much other than that they're old, 1903.
APPRAISER: There was one with the year of 1908. And hand-penciled, 1907. It looks like they were only half-saved from the demolition.
GUEST: Yes, unfortunately there was a leaky roof that had gotten to a few of these posters-- most of them, actually-- but they're still here.
APPRAISER: A lot of the posters suffer from just sheer loss, like pieces that are missing. Do you think they're real?
GUEST: I believe that they're original.
APPRAISER: I have to tell you, when I first saw them today, my immediate reaction was, "They're not real."
APPRAISER: And the reason I thought that was because the images are so unusual and in fact so rare, I thought that they had been created in someone's imagination and printed recently.
APPRAISER: And then when I looked at them closer, I discovered they weren't photographically done. These are all stone lithographs, and they are, in fact, all authentic, which is really great. The one closest to you is a beautiful Art Nouveau design with a woman. The next two images have pictures of the Mechanics Building on Huntington Avenue. Great images of cars. In the early days, you notice cards didn't have doors.
APPRAISER: Two of them are signed by this guy named Frank Dodge.
APPRAISER: And the one closest to you, the woman, is H. Peck. You can see that right under her collar, exactly right there. And this one also says "HP," so it would also be H. Peck.
APPRAISER: I researched them. No information on them whatsoever. They're very talented and completely anonymous graphic designers from the turn of the century.
APPRAISER: I'm going to be very honest with you, I think these are very inexpensive frames.
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: And the pieces are well-deserving of slightly better in that department. It's like taking a beautiful woman and dressing her in rags. I could not find any record of one of these coming up for auction.
APPRAISER: Now it's fairly standard to say that scarcity doesn't always equal value. Just because something has never been seen on the market doesn't mean that it's worth a lot of money. But with early automobile memorabilia, with automobiliana, and specifically early American car imagery, there's a very, very large and very active collecting base.
APPRAISER: Other early American automobile posters from such cities as Buffalo and New York, when they appear, they fetch prices between $3,000 and $4,000 each.
APPRAISER: Apiece. Now, that's for the posters in good condition, and these really are not in good condition. And many people would look at these and say, "You know what? I'm going to let them go with the demolished garage."
APPRAISER: But you had the foresight to pull them out, and I think that's great because I think even in the condition that they're in, they have substantial value. I think the one closest to you, I think that at auction would fetch between $2,000 and $3,000. And I think the other ones, which are all the Boston Automobile Show from the different years, despite the terrible condition, I think we could safely estimate them at $800 to $1,200 each, bringing the sum total of these five pieces between $5,200 and $7,800 for the group. And I think they could be appreciated on all different levels, and I think the market would really rise to meet them.
GUEST: Great, great, absolutely.
APPRAISER: I absolutely love them.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 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.