Frances H. Burnett Archive, ca. 1888

Value (2008) | $75,000 Auction

GUEST:
This is all about my great-grandmother, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and she wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy, Secret Garden, and Little Princess, and we just have a little bit of it here today.

APPRAISER:
All these items came down from your great-grandmother.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Frances Hodgson Burnett, a very famous 19th-century author.

GUEST:
Yes, sir.

APPRAISER:
What can you tell me about this particular item here?

GUEST:
It's the first handwritten chapter of Little Lord Fauntleroy, which is the book here, published in 1886.

APPRAISER:
You have a copy of the first edition here, which has her signature in it. Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author's edition. Sometimes these books are inscribed to persons that are of note and importance, and occasionally, you'll have a letter or a fragment of a manuscript after the fact, describing a work. The most important kind of manuscript is the first draft of an author's first book. And we have here the beginning of the chapter of the very first book that she published. Now, Little Lord Fauntleroy, as you probably know, is one of the most important works of 19th century literature. Sold over 500,000 copies, and it was also, as I understand it, a rage for little boys to wear the velvet pageboy outfits that Mr. Fauntleroy... Was there a real Mr. Fauntleroy, Lord Fauntleroy?

GUEST:
Yes, yes. My grandfather.

APPRAISER:
The son of Frances Hodgson Burnett?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And did he wear those kinds of outfits?

GUEST:
Yes. And I have those. Had those.

APPRAISER:
Oh, that's so incredible. What can you tell me about some of these other items that you brought in that go with it?

GUEST:
Uh, okay, this other piece we really feel is important, too, because she's responsible for the copyright laws that we have.

APPRAISER:
What we have here is a certificate with the names of authors from England.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And as I understand it, an author in London published a theatrical piece based on Little Lord Fauntleroy, Right.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
and she sued in court.

GUEST:
Yes, sir.

APPRAISER:
Because this becomes one of the most important precedents in copyright law, you not only have an archive that's significant for its literature, but the whole collection is also important as an archive for establishing copyright law between media. In the 19th century, it was very difficult for authors to protect their work. Because of this lawsuit, they established a precedent where authors were to receive royalties for other kinds of works. So, you have here a commemorative piece from those authors. You have another piece down here, which was a bracelet and ring inscribed from the authors in England. And later in life, she returned to England, didn't she?

GUEST:
Yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
She went back to Kent. And what can you tell me about this piece?

GUEST:
Okay, where she ended up staying in Kent, she leased a home for nine seasons, and that's where the actual Secret Garden is today still.

APPRAISER:
This is the guest book for the walk through the Secret Garden. And that's the guestbook.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm. Yes, sir.

APPRAISER:
What I find interesting about this is a lot of the signatures. You've taken one out here, which is an inscription from Henry James to her. We have in the book itself, the signature of Richard Le Gallienne, who was a very important British author of the time.

GUEST:
Didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
And what's interesting as well is that in additional pages, you have the signatures of important publishers-- Scribner's, Heinemann, who are also important in terms of the publishing history. So what we really have here is a tour de force, in my view. If you were to take these pieces individually, um, they would have relatively low value. This book on its own, individually, would probably be about $1,000 at auction.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And also, uh, this jewelry, I understand, would probably have $3,000 to $5,000 on its own. But the whole collection together would likely, at auction, have a value of $75,000.

GUEST:
Wow. Whoa. Thank you, thank you.

APPRAISER:
So, congratulations that you've kept this all together. It's very, it's very wonderful to see an historic archive held together and surviving in a family like yours.

GUEST:
Wonderful. Yay! (chuckles)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, DC
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2008)
$75,000 Auction
Event
Dallas, TX (June 28, 2008)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paper, Metal

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.