Hewlett-Packard Model 200D Signed Audio Oscillator, ca. 1942
This is Hewlett-Packard's first product. It's a 200 audio oscillator. The first one went to Walt Disney, and he used them to set the sound levels in the movie Fantasia so the different orchestras and music would all be at the same level.
Now, how did you come by this?
UET: About a year after their 50th anniversary, where there were a lot of pictures of this and Bill and Dave in the garage where they started and all of that stuff, I was at the Santa Cruz flea market and I spotted this and I knew what it was, so I bought it and came back and I called Bill Hewlett, got his secretary, and I told her what I was up to. I said, "I'd like them "to sign this oscillator. What do you think they would think?" And she said, "Well, Bill is here right now, so hang on a second." And she left and she came back and she said, "He would be happy to sign it. "He's here right now if you want to come up, "and Packard is out of town but will be back on Monday, "so if you could leave it with me, I will have him sign it and then I'll call you on Monday and you can come and get it." And I did, and it was thrilling. It was thrilling.
Well, you look at it, you can see the signature is right here for Packard... and Hewlett. Hewlett-Packard founded their company in 1939 in the garage in Palo Alto, now the birthplace of Silicon Valley. Hewlett-Packard have become one of the largest computer retailers in the world. How were you able to just call up their office and just walk in? I mean...
I worked for Hewlett-Packard. I started in 1977 as an electrician, and I was a supervisor at the time at the Sunnyvale site. And they had an inside HP phone directory, and they had their phone numbers in there. And you got a secretary, of course, but you could call them.
APPRAISED: When did you get this signed?
It was in 1990 or '91.
Right here you've got the "Model 200D." The Model 200 was one of their earliest models. It was released in '39.
And in '42, they changed to the logo that they use today. And so I know that it's that period.
The Model 200 originally sold for $54.50, which was almost a quarter of the price of any other comparable product by any other company. How much did you pay for it?
Things like these are difficult to price. As far as I know, these don't come up at all at auction. There's not a whole lot of records behind them. There are a few, but they're kind of hard to come by. Without the signatures, you're looking at about $1,700 to $2,000. With the signatures, with the history behind it, for insurance purposes, I'd value it between $7,000 and $9,000.
Wow. Nice. Very nice.
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.