United States of Colombia Sword, ca. 1865
Well, it was found in a warehouse that my husband's grandfather had purchased in Columbus, Mississippi, we thought probably in the 1930s.
This sword is really visually just a pretty sword. Do you know where it's from?
I don't. It looks Spanish because of the stuff up on the handle there.
This eagle is from Colombia. On the blade, we have gold wash, and it has the symbol for the country of Colombia, and it says, "Estados Unidos de Colombia," which is, "The United States of Colombia." That's important to help us date the sword, because they only used that as the United States of Colombia from 1861 to 1886. Then it became the Republic of Colombia. At the base of the blade, did you ever notice this marking?
Yes, I did. In fact, I looked it up. I knew that they did the swords for the Civil War.
Mm-hmm. It was Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham, and not only did they do swords for the American Civil War, they were one of the premier retailers-- it was them and Tiffany-- and they made swords that when you saw it, you said, "Wow." When you were buying from Schuyler or you were buying from Tiffany, you were paying through the nose, but you were getting the quality that was worth what you were paying for.
They're New York, are they not?
They're in New York, yes, they are. The sword has the gold on the blade, it has the gold wash on the handle, it has the shagreen grip, which means it's made of ray skin or shark skin. And the blade is the same blade that will show up in a regular cavalry sword or an officer's sword. Then they put the embellishments on it. On the top of the sword, we have the brass backstrap that's gold-gilted. We have the mythological face that a lot of people refer to as Medusa, with the serpents radiating from it. And it's in the original scabbard. The scabbard has the heavy gilt, brass mounts, and it has extra chase work all around. They would cast the piece and then they would go in and hand-chisel it and chase it to give it more clarity and more detail. I think this sword, today, would bring between $5,000 and $6,000 in a retail situation.
Wow, I'm surprised. I really didn't think it was that much.
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.
Walt Disney | AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Coming to American Experience September 14 & 15 is the unprecedented look at the complex life and enduring legacy of one of America’s best-known storytellers – Walt Disney
Arthur & George
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a three-part MASTERPIECE Mystery! adaptation of the novel by Julian Barnes. Airs Sundays, September 6-20