Alfred Stieglitz "291" Periodicals, ca. 1915

Value (2010) | $25,000 Retail

Well, this is a book that belonged to my uncle. He gave it to me a few years ago. He was an artist. He graduated from the Chicago Art Institute. It was given to him, I'm thinking, by somebody at the Art Institute. He told me the book was very valuable, but it didn't really mean much to me. He wanted me to get it appraised, so I sent pictures of the book and never heard back from them. Since then I've done a lot of research on the Internet, so I know a little bit about the book, and I thought, "Who better to take it to but ANTIQUES ROADSHOW?"

This is a series of periodicals. It's Alfred Stieglitz' famous "291" magazine that was named after his photographic studio in New York. The 12 issues were published between 1915 to '16, and it really represents the birth of modernism and avant garde in America. It was incredibly farseeing and ahead of its time for its day. Stieglitz and the others conceived the run as a whole 12-issue run. That's all they ever meant to publish. It was issued in an edition of 1,100 copies. 100 copies were printed on vellum, and the other thousand copies were on paper. This is the paper edition. We have the book opened here to the machine portraits, but I want to take a minute and turn to a couple of other pages. This is the cover of the very first issue here. These have been bound, but there's a complete set of all 12 of the issues of this just legendary magazine. It was a financial disaster for Stieglitz. Of the original print runs in the two editions, he sold eight subscriptions in vellum and 100 subscriptions on paper. The entire rest of the print run he sold to a rag picker in New York City for $5.80.


Full sets rarely come on the market. A full run of these in the condition that these are in would bring at retail approximately $25,000.

Wow. Wow. Well, my uncle always said it was something special.

Appraisal Details

Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, UT
Appraised value (2010)
$25,000 Retail
San Diego, CA (June 12, 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.