1896 Watercolor Farm Portrait

Value (2005) | $10,000 Retail

I got this from my grandmother, and this is a picture of her grandparents' farm in southeast Minnesota. It'd be over by the Rochester, Stewartville area. And she had gotten it from her brother. Actually, it was hanging in a granary for a while. She really liked the picture, got it and had it in her house. I always was really attracted to the picture, and I was really intrigued by it. And when she was getting older, she gave it to me, and I've had it hanging in my house for a while. The people in here would be my grandparents or relatives in there, and this would have been their farm.

Great. The picture is painted with watercolor and gouache. It's like an opaque watercolor. And I'm very taken by the fact that all these farm activities have been done in such detail. It's very carefully painted. Um, if we start here, we see that there seems to be someone arriving on horseback-- a relative, or maybe it's the tax man, who knows. And the windmill next door, the out buildings and ultimately the barn, all painted with vivid, wonderful clarity. We can see that it's signed and initialed and dated 1896. But you don't know who that person was?

No. I had a card that was with the picture, but on the card it said that it was painted by a traveling artist. I tried to do a little research on it, and what somebody had suggested at a local museum or historical society was that there were some, maybe some art schools locally, that maybe some of the students might have went out at various times. It was kind of popular, I guess, for kids to go and get... So we have yet to find out. That's all I ever knew.

Well, the picture has a lot going for it. It's colorful, it's graphic, and I think, all in all, condition is excellent. There are these vertical stains, which were caused by the picture at some point being framed and backed with wood. Because it's not too dark. I don't think it affects the painting negatively as far as value is concerned, and I think the frame, in all likelihood, it's certainly from the same vintage as the painting. Has anyone along the way ever told you what this was worth?

Somebody told someone else about that my grandmother had this, and somebody came and offered her $700 for it one time.

All right.

And that's the only thing I ever knew.

So your grandmother, steadfast, said, "No way, I'm not selling this."

Yeah, it was family deals.

I asked some of my friends here on the show for opinions, and I always ask myself if I was buying something, "Would you pay X?" So the X, in this instance, was somewhere upwards to $10,000.

Are you s...

I think it's so special. And it is as good a farm scene as I've seen here, and I've been doing the show for ten years. We want to thank you.

Well, I appreciate it. Wow, that's amazing. That much, huh?

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$10,000 Retail
Bismarck, ND (July 30, 2005)
19th Century
Gouache, Watercolor

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.