Lahcotah Archive, ca. 1866

Value (2005) | $100,000 Auction$150,000 Auction

APPRAISER:
You've brought in a very interesting group of material today, and it comes from your great-great-uncle, right?

GUEST:
That's correct. This is a photograph taken, I think, towards the end of his career. But he was born in New York and he moved out to Illinois when he was in his teens, went back East to West Point, where he was a cadet from 1860 to 1865. After he graduated from West Point, he was with the U.S. Army and he went out to the Dakotas, Fort Laramie, Fort Kearney, where he studied with the Sioux who were out there.

APPRAISER:
Well, his work at Fort Laramie is what really interests me. Fort Laramie was a very important post along the Oregon Trail. It was established as a fur trading post in 1834, and then with the California Gold Rush in the late 1840s, it became a military post. And your great-great-uncle happens to have been there at a very momentous time in the history of printing in America. He printed this book, which is called Lahcotah, and he signed it here on the cover. And what it is, is it's a dictionary of the Sioux language, the rules of pronunciation, et cetera. And if I just turn to the back, to the very last page... We see that the book was printed in Fort Laramie, Dakota, December 1866, and that W.S. Starring was the co-author of the book with J.K. Hyer, and an Indian interpreter, Charles Guerreu. We see that not only is it this printed book, but it's filled with his pencil annotations, correcting it. So it makes it a very significant copy of this book because it's the author's own and it's with his corrections, further revisions to the dictionary of the Sioux language. It's in its entirely original condition, very simply bound with these staples.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
He also has with it what we call two gorgets. And I've talked to the colleagues on the tribal arts table, and it would have been worn around the neck on a breastplate. And it carries these decorations. These happened to be owned by two of the seniormost chiefs of the Sioux nation in the 1870s: Red Cloud and Spotted Tail. They tell me, conservatively, the value on these would be about $8,000 to $12,000 each.

GUEST:
Each?

APPRAISER:
Each. But let's go to the book. This is the first book printed in Wyoming. And collectors of Americana are so passionate about having the first book printed in any of the territories. Wyoming is in the Great Plains. It happens to also be about the Sioux language, so it has an extremely important ethnographic interest as well.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
This book at auction I would estimate at $60,000 to $80,000.

GUEST:
For one book?

APPRAISER:
For this copy, the author's copy, with his annotations...

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
The first book printed in Wyoming. With the other items, for the whole collection, you're looking at an archive value of roughly $100,000 to $150,000.

GUEST:
(chuckles) Wow. That's, um...

APPRAISER:
Had you any idea that this kind of very humble-looking book would be worth so much?

GUEST:
We... we were trying to guess, and we weren't even close. That... that's, um... That's incredible.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's a highly significant book.

GUEST:
And I don't know if because of the annotations make it worth that much more.

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
We have two more copies. They're not...

APPRAISER:
Only one copy has come up at auction in the last 25 years, and it made $30,000, and that was in 1999. That was for just a standard copy, and it had some condition problems. So I think this is easily twice as good. It's an incredibly rare book.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2005)
$100,000 Auction$150,000 Auction
Event
Tampa, FL (June 25, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Form
Archive

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.