1997 Mother Teresa Signed Note

Value (2011) | $1,000 Insurance
Watch  

GUEST:
I'm a woodcarver and I carved a cane for Mother Teresa and sent it to her. And three, four, five weeks later, I got a thank-you note from her and that's what we're here for.

APPRAISER:
What year was this that you...

GUEST:
It was about eight months before she passed away. And I can't tell you the year now.

APPRAISER:
1997, I think it was.

GUEST:
Yeah, somewhere in that range.

APPRAISER:
Why did you carve the cane for Mother Teresa?

GUEST:
Why the idea hit me, I don't know, just all of a sudden I had the idea, I'd carve her a cane. And then I weighed that out-- yes, no, yes, no. And finally I decided it was too presumptuous on my part to carve her a cane. Well, we went to Colorado, and a missionary pilot was telling about some of his experiences and he had flown Mother Teresa into different places. And when he brought her name up, my world just changed. My hearing-- I didn't hear what was going on, and the voice inside said, "Do it, just do it." So I went home and started carving.

APPRAISER:
And how long did it take you to carve it?

GUEST:
Most canes I've spent probably 40 hours. Maybe this cane not quite so much because it's pretty simple, according to Mother Teresa's lifestyle, you know.

APPRAISER:
Absolutely. And here's a picture of you with the cane. I assume it's you.

GUEST:
That is me, back when I had color in my hair.

APPRAISER:
Yep, that was before you sent it off.

GUEST:
Right before I sent it, yes.

APPRAISER:
You always see her with a cane in many of those photographs of her at work. She relied on the cane I know, especially in the end of her...

GUEST:
She, uh... I was told that she used it until she couldn't anymore, yes.

APPRAISER:
The letter is just... is very touching, too. It's on the Missionaries of Charity, which is her order that she founded 1950 in Calcutta, where you know she worked with the poor. And she writes a nice letter, "Dear Ernest, "thank you very much for the walking stick, "so beautifully carved. "My gratitude is my prayer for you, "that you may allow by God's grace to carve "Word of God on your soul, on your mind, so that you may become more and more like Him." And it's signed "Teresa, MC," which is Missionaries of Charity.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And then on the back, a little prayer from Isaiah, "See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand." And then Mother Teresa's written a little "you" there. You must have really touched her with your generous carving. It's a unique thing. Obviously the cane itself is worth something. We don't know where that is. And the note is something that's obviously priceless for you. To give it some kind of a value, I would insure it with a value of around a thousand. But this is about something that's much more valuable and priceless.

GUEST:
I was curious about her signature basically.

APPRAISER:
It's all right, it's perfect. She didn't have a lot of secretaries. I think she did a lot of the things herself.

GUEST:
Right, right.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2011)
$1,000 Insurance
Event
Tulsa, OK (July 23, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Letter
Material
Paper
October 20, 2014: Mother Teresa is one of the most prominent Roman Catholic figures of the 20th-century. After receiving approval from the Holy See, Mother Teresa began her own order, The Missionaries of Charity, in 1950. Based in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa and The Missionaries of Charity worked to provide education and support to the poorest people of that city.

An Antiques Roadshow viewer wrote to us after seeing an appraisal of a note received from Mother Teresa thanking the guest, Ernest Loganbill, for a walking stick he had carved for her. Patty told us that it was her sibling, Sister M. Kateri of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, who drew the image on the card Loganbill had received.

We followed up with Patty who helped give us a fuller picture of the small image. “My sister joined the Missionaries of Charity in May 1981. At that time, the Sisters were allowed to write to their families once a month on the second Sunday. All of them wrote ‘+LDM’ on all their correspondences, usually in the left upper corner as it is on the thank you note to Mr. Loganbill.”

Internet research indicates that “+LDM” stands for “Laudetur Deo Mariaeque,” which means “praise to God and to Mary.”

Patty continued, “In her letter dated February 14, 1982, my sister told us the story of the ‘child in the palm of God's hand’… Also in that letter is a copy of the drawing.”

In the letter, Sr. Kateri explains how she volunteered to make the drawing as a surprise gift for Mother Teresa, and why the words and image were chosen: “The words from Isaiah (paraphrased) are words Mother [Teresa] always says in her letters to people—so Sister Priscilla (Superior of U.S.) wanted to surprise her by having some cards made up that Mother [Teresa] could send out.”

It was one of these cards that Roadshow guest Loganbill received after sending the cane he had personally carved to Mother Teresa.

One might guess that Mother Teresa was very pleased with the image Sr. Kateri created as she apparently asked a young woman, Susan Conroy, to recreate it four years later. Conroy recalls, “While I was with Mother Teresa in Calcutta in 1986, she personally showed me this small version of it… which the Missionaries of Charity apparently used as stationery. Mother [Teresa] then asked me to create a large drawing of a child in the Palm of God’s Hand with those same words from the Prophet Isaiah. I put my whole heart into drawing this image at Mother Teresa’s request, using my own hands as a model, and my depiction ended up being large enough to be framed and hung on the wall at the convent.”

Mother Teresa received a number of notable prizes in recognition of her actions, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mother Teresa died in September of 1997, but The Missionaries of Charity continue the work she began in India with branches now existing in many parts of the world.

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.