Jack Cowan Work on Paper, ca. 1950

Value (2012) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
This is a painting that my father-in-law received from his father as gift from the artist. It shows Howard Hughes Sr. going to do some work at a oil site with a new piece of equipment called a rotary drill back in 1912.

APPRAISER:
And what do you know about the artist?

GUEST:
Well, he was originally from Bristol, Tennessee, which was where my stepfather grew up. And my mother lived there many years as well. He was a very famous wildlife artist in Texas, where he spent most of his life. I think he did it as some promotional artwork for an oil company is what I have read.

APPRAISER:
Well, his name is Jack Pemberton Cowan, or John Pemberton Cowan. He often went by Jack. You are right, he mostly is known for wildlife, hunting, fishing scenes. And so this is a little bit different than what we usually see by this artist. Cowan wrote a little note about it being Howard Hughes Sr., and it gives a date of 1912. Now, we can assume that that date of 1912 is the date that relates to the image. But the painting, of course, was not painted in 1912 because the artist, Jack Cowan, wasn't born until 1920. Under that inscription we have another inscription that mentions that this drawing was given to your relative in 1954. So, presumably, it was actually painted some time in the early 1950s and just a few years after maybe gifted to your relative. What we have here is a work on paper, and I call it a work on paper because it's a combination of more than one media. We certainly have watercolor, which we can see in the sky area. But we definitely have gouache layering on top, which gives that thicker, opaque paint. Howard Hughes Sr. invented the 64-tooth drill bit, which was created to drill through rock, and it's actually still used today. And this depicts a scene where he's out testing this new product. It probably was commissioned by an oil company, as you mentioned. Putting a value on it is a little bit subjective because it's atypical of his work. A current auction estimate is $8,000 to $12,000.

GUEST:
Okay. Thank you, Mom.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, New Jersey
Appraised value (2012)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Event
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Painting
Material
Gouache, Paper, Watercolor

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.