Tootsietoy Dollhouse Furniture, ca. 1938

Value (2008) | $2,500 Auction$3,000 Auction

Well, these boxes were purchased by my father back, probably, in the early '40s, because he had a plan to build a dolls' house.

Okay, and he was going to build it for you.

Yes, he was.

Okay. And he bought all of the furniture so that he could build the dolls' house. He was a busy young lawyer. He did not get the dolls' house built. He did let me play with the furniture in my dolls' houses, as long as I was very careful and didn't lose anything.

Well, the result of him not building it really is that it was kept in such fine condition and we have all the original boxes. We have basically the full contents of a house. We have the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, bedrooms, everything. And TootsieToy was a company in Chicago. Dowst was the company, and TootsieToy was their trade name. And TootsieToy specialized in small, little playthings like toy cars, planes, little trains, things like that. But they also made a line for girls. And they would make these dollhouse furnishings for their own houses as well as what your father planned to do with them. They really started making their vehicles in the teens and '20s. This set comes around in the 1930s, and the style of the furniture and of all the furnishings are very 1930s. And what's interesting about Dowst and TootsieToy was they were able to find an economic way to mass-produce furniture. We have an original pricetag written on here. That entire set was $1.25. Now, maybe the smaller sets were a little bit cheaper. And they were made out of cast metal. It's die-cast, very easy to cast, and you could get a lot of detail. If you look at the upholstered furniture, they used like a flocked surface so it looks soft, but it's really still a die-cast piece of furniture. And then, when you go into the kitchen, it's just so detailed. They have a Monitor Top refrigerator. They have the type of stove they would have used in the day, a Hoosier-type-looking cupboard. Just everything that would be in that period of house. We always talk about boxes and condition. And you obviously have both here. Each set is conservatively valued at about, I'd say, $200 to $300. But when you really put it all together, that starts to add up. There's eight sets here. I would say that an auction estimate would be $2,500 to $3,000 for everything, because you have all eight of these.

Oh, my. I'm thrilled. I don't think my father would be able to believe it.

Appraisal Details

Village Doll Shop
Adamstown, PA
Morphy Auctions
Appraised value (2008)
$2,500 Auction$3,000 Auction
Chattanooga, TN (July 19, 2008)
20th Century

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.