Ernest Hemingway Signed Hat and Book, ca. 1935

Value (2010) | $4,500 Retail$6,750 Retail

It's a small collection of memorabilia from a dude ranch that my grandmother was part owner in in the late '30s. Ernest Hemingway wrote a couple of books up there while he stayed there. He spent a part of five different summers between 1928 and 1939. And this is a picture of a cabin that was built for him. This is a hat that all the guests signed, and it's kind of a veritable who's who of Cody, Wyoming. But Ernest Hemingway signed it here. And this is my grandmother here that owned the ranch.

You also had a book that Ernest Hemingway had at the ranch. And he was good enough to leave his signature in it.

That's correct.

A lot of places-- you go to hotels, you go to estates and they have a guest book. And you walk in and you have the normal guest book that people sign their name in, maybe they add a little here or there. But it's a book. You have a hat. The Hemingway signature is right here. Now, it's also... what was the L-Bar-T...


So it says where he is, but then it goes around and tells sort of a history of the other people who were out here visiting. Now, were they all visitors to the ranch?

No, a lot of them were either outlaws or dignitaries in Cody, Wyoming. There was a lot of ranch owners, dude ranch owners. Here's my grandfather. He had the Diamond Bar ranch. Here's Frost Richards, which was a big dude outfit. Under this hat band there's a little signature here that is Lee Molesworth of Molesworth Furniture. Lee was his son and he snuck in and signed this hat in an obscure place. There are just a lot of people who were of some importance and/or happened to stop by and sign the hat that lived in Cody in the late '30s.

As far as value goes, the book, it happens to be a copy of Swiss Family Robinson. If you didn't have this book signed by Ernest Hemingway, it has no value. None. It's not in good condition. The fact that it's signed by Ernest Hemingway, probably $500 to $750.

I'll be darned.

That is a retail value. It's not a Hemingway book. If it had been one of his, it would be worth much more. The hat is the real thing, though. I think where the real value of this comes in is historically, researching, looking up, checking who all the other people on the hat are, and then somebody locally is just going to go wild for it. It would be such a showpiece. I think, conservatively, this is a $4,000 to $6,000 hat.

Oh, you're kidding.

And with further research, I think it could even go a lot higher.

Appraisal Details

Brattle Book Shop
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2010)
$4,500 Retail$6,750 Retail
Billings, MT (June 26, 2010)

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.