19th-Century Gold Watch Fob Chain

Value (2008) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

GUEST:
About 25 years ago, my husband and I were asked to go to Colorado to clean out an aunt's home who had come back here to the state to be with family, because she was in her 90s. And we were asked just to bring personal items, so we packed up small things we thought she might have enjoyed through her life, and dresses and purses and that kind of stuff. When we got it back here, she said, "What am I going to do with all of this? I don't want it-- you take it." And then, we thought, "Well, what are we going to do with all this stuff?" So, we took it back to our home. And one of the purses-- just an old plastic purse-- had a lot of what I hope was just costume jewelry, and we just kind of pitched that. I hope I didn't throw out a big jewel. But in the bottom of that purse was this chain. And it's a watch fob, I believe, and I don't know anything more about it.

APPRAISER:
Well, you're right about that. Now, this chain had to have a fabulous watch on it.

GUEST:
Oh...

APPRAISER:
You said you noticed a mark over here. Right inside of here, what did you see?

GUEST:
"14 karat."

APPRAISER:
Right.

APPRAISER:
It is, in fact, 14-karat yellow gold.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Beautiful old watch fob chain, probably from the late 1800s. This is all handmade.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah. You take metal, you draw it down and make it round. You take it, you roll it out. You make it flat for these sections. You cut it out, you pierce it. You knurl the edges. Even the piece here for the bar that hangs down for the watch fob.

GUEST:
Unbelievable.

APPRAISER:
You said it-- fabulous. The watch would hang off of the swivel.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The swivel opens and closes, and then this piece is where you would have another fob hanging down, sometimes a seal.

GUEST:
Oh.

APPRAISER:
Sometimes a pocket knife or something like that. It weighs 60 pennyweights. That's a measurement we use to measure gold.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
There's 20 pennyweights in a troy ounce. So, here we have three troy ounces. Now, if you went someplace at today's gold price, and you were just going to scrap this out, you have $1,600 just in scrap gold.

GUEST:
Oh, wow!

APPRAISER:
But this isn't the kind of thing you would sell like that. This piece today, at auction, I would say, $4,000 to $6,000.

GUEST:
No way!

APPRAISER:
Yeah. Unbelievable. We could have thrown it right out with the purse. It's really one of the prettiest chains I've ever seen, watch fob chains.

GUEST:
Wonderful! Wow! Wow. Wow. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Doyle New York
New York, New York
Appraised value (2008)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Event
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 2008)
Period
19th Century
Form
Chain
Material
Gold

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.