Daguerreotype Camera, ca. 1850

Value (2013) | $8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

The family inherited a house back in the mid-'90s, and it was just full of old stuff that hadn't been touched in years. And in the one closet, built into the wall was a cardboard box, and this and a bunch of other loose stuff was in the box. We went to a camera shop a few months ago and I was telling the people there that, "Oh, I have a camera sort of like these ones they have on display," and they go, "Do you?" And so we went back to the house and we brought it up, and they said, "You need to be on the Roadshow." And so here I am.

Well, I'm glad that you're here, and I'm glad that you brought this camera in. This is a very, very rare camera.

You're kidding me. Oh, you gave me goosebumps.

I'm not kidding you.

Good, I'm glad that you're getting goose bumps.

This is a Louis Daguerreotype camera. The Daguerrotype was invented in France in 1839, and the first cameras were made in Europe, and then Americans started catching on. And this probably dates from about 1850. This is a neat thing, because there's a knob here that we can actually use to slide the camera. And this bellows is important, because this was a development that allowed the photographer to focus with. The Daguerreotypist would put a plate holder in here that had a copper plate coated in silver that had been sensitized with mercury and iodine to make it light sensitive. They would take it out from the darkroom, bring it out to the sitter, put it in here. The photographer would then say, "Hold still." He would take the lens cap off, he would hold a pocket watch, and he would count the seconds off. And he would say, "Okay, the exposure's complete. "I'll put the lens cap back on, I'll pull the plate out and take it into the darkroom to develop it." What's missing here is the plate holder, and that does affect the value. The construction of this is wood with this great rosewood veneer. The lens is made by a maker named Darlot, D-A-R-L-O-T, in Paris. He was a very, very well known Daguerrian lens maker.

Oh my, okay.

Now, the last time that one of these sold, it brought in excess of $10,000.

You're kidding me! Oh, no! (laughing)

It's got a little bit... a few chips of veneer that are gone here. The bellows have got some holes in them. It's missing the plate holder. So if you were thinking about a good auction estimate, $8,000 to maybe $10,000 is a good estimate for this particular camera.

That's amazing.

Appraisal Details

Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH
Appraised value (2013)
$8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Cincinnati, OH (July 21, 2012)
19th Century
Glass, Metal, Wood

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.