1910 Hough's "American Woods" 3rd Edition Set
In 1976, we were living in Massachusetts, where both my husband and I had grown up, and we bought our first house. It was an old sort of fixer-upper, and the attic was full of all kinds of junk, mostly. And in the course of clearing out the house and renovating, we came across a box with this set of books. And we very carefully packed it up and put it away and got on with the business of getting the house together and pretty much forgot about it over the years.
You just don't ever get to see this set in its completeness. This shows American woods. It's actually a project to describe the nomenclature of all the American woods and trees of the day. The book was first published in 1888, and what you brought in today is the third edition of 1910, with the latest changes in botanical nomenclature. And in these 14 volumes, he has actually produced a book that virtually covers almost every known species of American trees by showing how to identify the tree by its wood. And each of these plates shows three different views of the wood. These are actually thinly sliced pieces of the real wood. And to hand-do that and then to print and label them, bind them into these pages and... over the 14 volumes, there are over 1,000 different American trees identified by actual samples of the wood. They're in astonishing condition as well, so you've taken good care of them. Do you have any idea what this set might be worth?
I don't. In the attic, there were also some pieces of old clocks, and we did have someone come to the house to look at the clocks, but at the same time, a dealer offered me $2,000 for it, but we never followed up, and we said, "They're kind of cool. Why don't we just hang onto them?"
That was a wise choice. At retail, this set in this condition would fetch approximately $30,000.
No, I'm not. I believe that's conservative. The set is in absolutely perfect condition, and it's one of the most sought-after sets of the 20th century.
I'm really amazed. I'm very glad I didn't take his offer.
How much did you pay for the house?
In 1976, we paid $53,000.
Update 12.23.2013: We contacted appraiser Ken Sanders for an updated appraisal in today's market.
Current Appraised Value: $35,000 - $45,000 (Increased)
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.