Preston Dickinson "Village" Watercolor, ca. 1925

Value (2011) | $30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

About 14 years ago, I had a coworker who injured himself, and he couldn't get to work on his own. So I offered to pick him up and bring him home on a daily basis until he got better. And he regularly offered me money to help with the car expenses, and I never accepted any of that. So when he had recovered, he basically gave me this painting out of his gratitude for helping him.

It's certainly a wonderful gift to have received from your friend. How do you think he came by it?

Well, his wife was an artist. They immigrated here from Europe. And while they were here, they frequented garage sales and estate sales. And I suspect that this is one of the items that they picked up at one of those sales.

Let me tell you a little bit about Preston Dickinson. He was born in the late 19th century in New York and originally studied at the Art Students League. What really made his Precisionist style was his trip to France, to Paris, specifically, where he was very impressed with the Cubist artists and also with the artwork of Cézanne. When I was in college, arguably many years ago, one of the ideas that our professors would always drill into us about the importance of Cézanne was that he believed that the natural world should be broken down into geometric shapes-- sphere, cone and cylinder. And we can see in this Dickinson painting that he's followed his teacher very well. We have spherical shapes here, we have a cylinder and we have the cone shape. And the premise behind the Precisionist movement was that you would have almost clinically precise scenes-- industrial, urban. And one of the items that you never see in a classic Precisionist painting are people. It's all about the formal line of the architecture or of the nature. And this is a terrific example of that. The Precisionist movement in the United States really coalesced in 1920. And I suspect that this piece was executed between 1920 and arguably 1925 or '27. It is a watercolor.


Which means that you need to keep it somewhere dark so the colors don't fade. Precisionism is a phase or a style of Modernism. And while the market is, as we know, quite up and down, Modernism is very popular right now. Given that, I would estimate it at auction at $30,000 to $50,000.

Wow, very good. I'm very excited about that.

Yes, yes. You're a good friend.

(laughs) Thank you.

Thank you for coming.

Appraisal Details

Colleene Fesko Works of Art
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2011)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Atlanta, GA (August 06, 2011)

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.