Simon Sparrow Outsider Art Picture, ca. 1980

Value (2009) | $6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction

Well, I know that this piece of artwork was created by a local Madison artist named Simon Sparrow. He was a street preacher in Madison. And that's actually what I remember him from as a child. He, uh, he used to stand in Library Mall in a big, blue robe and preach outside on the campus. He was a customer of my father-in-law's service station on Park Street in Madison. And one day, in the winter, his car had broken down and he had walked to the service station to ask my father-in-law to help him, and so he did. My father-in-law didn't charge him anything and he made this as a thank-you present for my father-in-law. APPRASIER: Do you have any idea when he made this?

I think that it was probably made in the late '70s, maybe early '80s at the latest. APPRASIER: So, what do you think your father-in-law thought when he gave it to him?

Well, I'm sure he appreciated the gesture. I know that it hung for a while in my in-laws' basement. And when my husband and I bought our first house, it was sent over to our home. Wasn't very thrilled about having it in the house. We eventually did hang it in my son's bedroom when he was a baby, and it was over his crib. But he was scared of it, so we took it down. (laughing) APPRASIER: Well, one of the things that makes this kind of folk art so interesting is that it affects everybody in different ways. And most people in the business would refer to this as outsider art. It's made from found objects. And Simon Sparrow thought that he was a spiritual vessel that God talked through. And he thought that his art and his spiritual message were one and the same, that this type of creation was sort of the essence of the human spirituality. He was West African, and so a lot of the symbolism is African spirituality mixed up with Christianity and iconic images. I did some research online and there's quite a bit of his work out there. He worked in different mediums. He worked in pastels, he worked in pencil and charcoal. But most people, I think, really prefer these works. Mr. Sparrow died in 2000 and there's some of his work in the Minnesota Museum of Art. And he was represented by a major gallery down in Chicago. I would say a good auction estimate on this would be $6,000 to $8,000.

Wow. APPRASIER: And then I would just kind of stand back and let them fight over it.

That's great.

Are you guys going to hang it in the house?

I don't know. (laughing) We might have to now.

Appraisal Details

Ken Farmer LLC
Charlottesville, VA
Appraised value (2009)
$6,000 Auction$8,000 Auction
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Folk Art
Beads , Paint

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.