1903-1905 The Doves Press Bible

Value (2011) | $10,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
I've been antiquing for maybe 30 years, and I have a good friend who is an antique dealer in Southern Michigan. He was closing his shop. I was down there, and we put together a package of stuff. The price for the whole pile was $600. I got some pottery and I got this oil painting, and I attribute of that $600, maybe $300 was what I paid for the books.

APPRAISER:
Normally on the Roadshow if you ask me in the book department, "What's one thing not to bring?", it's the Bible. But here we have a Bible, around the turn of the century, and I'm talking the 1800s to 1900s. There was a big movement in England towards the Arts and Crafts, simplifying design, simplifying things. William Morris was probably one of the best known, and he had a press called the Kelmscott Press. But there were other people, and a man named Cobden Sanderson formed what he called the Doves Press. The masterpiece of the Doves Press is his Bible. It's bound in a vellum. It's a gorgeous condition, absolutely beautiful. This is volume one. This book took two years to produce, so when they first put out subscriptions, they had 500 copies only. The subscription sold out almost immediately, so this book was out of print before it was finished.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
The date on this is 1903, on the first one. And what it is, is sort of the simplicity of the printing. Cobden Sanderson made his own type that he used just for this press. This is all handmade paper.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And one of the things that I'll point out is that when you have the boxes, and it slips in, in this manner, it holds it very tightly. Vellum tends to dry out very easily. So if you were to leave this under the hot lights in your house, this would start to come up. So the fact that they're actually in a box like this is very helpful. The fact that the condition is almost perfect is fabulous. This press ran from 1903, and then in about 1916, '17, the press ended. And Cobden Sanderson didn't want anything reprinted, redone, so the story is that he went to the River Thames and took all the type, which he had designed specifically for this book, and threw them in the river.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
So nobody could ever do a copy of it, or ever do another one.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
This is a $10,000 to $15,000 Bible.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
Retail price.

GUEST:
I guess I'll have to tell my friend.

APPRAISER:
If there was a defect, if there was something wrong with it, you could slash the price by 90%.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Brattle Book Shop
Boston, Massachusetts
Appraised value (2011)
$10,000 Retail$15,000 Retail
Event
Minneapolis, MN (July 09, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Book
Material
Paper
March 26, 2012: Appraiser Ken Gloss would like to add that Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson founded the Doves Press with Emery Walker around 1900. Further research shows that Walker was in charge of the technical side of the press, while Cobden-Sanderson had creative control over what was published and final designs. The two were involved in a bitter dispute over ownership of the press' distinctive type font. In 1916, Codben-Sanderson is said to have taken the dramatic step of throwing bits of the type into the River Thames. The Emery Walker Library in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England claims to have the only remaining example of the Doves Press type in its collection — a block used to print a Christmas card in 1900.

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.