French Brocade Dress, ca. 1775

Value (2011) | $25,000 Retail$30,000 Retail

It's been in my family. The lady that wore it was my great-grandmother's great-grandmother. And it was part of her trousseau when she married.

And about when would that have been?


And where did she live at that time?

She lived in New York.

Do you know anything about the dress as to where it was made or anything about the fabric?

No, and I've always wondered. She was an American and she married an American, and I'd assumed it was made in America, but experts tell me that this kind of fabric was not being made in America then, and it was probably made in France, possibly England.

Well, it's a beautiful dress, and it's made in the 1770s, as you mentioned.


The fabric is exceptional. It's a French brocade. You have to remember that at this time in America, fabrics were very, very expensive. But a fabric of this quality is just exceptional. This would be the quality that Marie Antoinette would have worn. It has a nice, fitted waist with a pannier skirt, which means it accentuates the small waist and makes the hips look fuller. And we have nice fitted sleeves with double ruffles, right around the elbow. It's all hand-sewn, of course, because there was no sewing machine at that time. The hooks and eyes in the front, which would be beneath this area here, are replacements. But other than that, the condition of it is just amazing.

We wondered if it was made in France and sent over to her because the man she married was from French Huguenot ancestry.

It's a little puzzling as to whether it was actually made in the United States or France. Possibly it was made in France. Today, I think, in a really high-quality shop, it would sell from somewhere between $25,000 and $30,000.

Goodness. Well, that's interesting.

Appraisal Details

Szescila Appraisal Service
Houston, TX
Appraised value (2011)
$25,000 Retail$30,000 Retail
Atlanta, GA (August 06, 2011)
18th Century

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.