”History of the Indian Tribes of North America“ Book
I've got these three volumes of the McKinney and Hall Indians. A dear, dear friend of mine bought these in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1964. And the people that were selling them, it was like a garage sale. And they wanted $100 a book, and she talked them down, and bought all three of them for $250. So I saw them a number of years ago and I always loved them, loved them, loved them. And kept after her, after her. So finally she said she would sell them to me. This was in 1994. But she wanted $1,000 a volume. And I said, "What the heck?" So I went and I got the money and I bought them from her.
Did you know anything about this book when you bought it?
When I bought it, I didn't know a thing, nothing. I just thought it was very good looking, the size, the color, the printing everything. I just thought they were wonderful. I had to have them.
Well, you are right. This is a very good-looking book. This is an important book for two reasons. It's an important example of American bookmaking, American printmaking, in the tradition of the big Audubon folios. I mean, this is 19th-century American lithography at its best. But it's also an important piece of American history. This book is put together by two men, Thomas McKinney and James Hall. And Thomas McKinney worked for the Department of War in the 1830s, and part of his job was to negotiate treaties with the Native Americans who would come to Washington to sign treaties. And he thought up the idea of having the representatives, the chiefs, the tribal leaders, pose for portraits in oil while they were in Washington. So he put together this tremendous collection of paintings of Native Americans. And it was really one of the first and best records of what those individuals looked like, what their costumes were like, what they brought with them to Washington to negotiate the treaties. Outstanding. He actually got so involved in curating this collection of portraits that he lost his job with the Department of War. So then he got involved in publishing, and he took those paintings and he had these gorgeous lithographs made-- and this is a beautiful example of it here-- and published these books by subscription. It came out in three volumes. You have all three volumes here. And there are 120 illustrations of Native American leaders of various tribes of the time. What makes this book especially rare and valuable is that all of those original paintings were donated to the Smithsonian, and in 1865, many were destroyed in a fire. All we have left of those records are these lithographs in this three-volume set. It's been reprinted many, many times, but you've got the first edition. You've got it in its original form. This is the original cloth cover for the book, which means it's not been rebound or cut down. So they're just gorgeous. The plates are clean. There's hardly any damage, foxing inside it. It's just a beautiful, beautiful set. This is a popular book. It comes up at auction, and I can tell you the last couple of times a set this nice sold at auction, sold for about $70,000.
Oh, my goodness.
So I would put an auction estimate on this three-volume set of $70,000 to $90,000.
Oh, goodness, thank you. I love it.
Thank you for bringing it in.
I did good.
You did great.
That's wonderful. That's good. Very good. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
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.