J. Frank Dobie Letter & Publications
I got it in an estate sale. J. Frank Dobie, he was a teacher at the University of Texas, and he gave that up to become an author. He was a folklorist especially for Texan material, and he went around the state collecting tales from all sorts of folk-- ranch hands, cowboys, vaqueros. And he's considered one of the greatest of the Texan writers.
This material includes a letter from J. Frank Dobie to what is clearly a very good friend of his from 1932, about the heyday of his career as a folklorist and a writer, and several pamphlets, each of them inscribed. Some of them are Christmas pamphlets, and some are just kind of offprints from some of the journals that he was publishing in. The letter, it's really fascinating. He says here in the second paragraph, "The hunting was no good, but we had a Yaqui Indian with us, and he proved to be the most fertile yarner I have ever heard, almost. He has stories about coyotes, giants, bears, fairies and every other sort of creature. God only knows what I shall do with all this stuff after I get it down." So one thing that's great about this letter is that it shows this wonderful folklorist right in the middle of doing what he does best: collecting these stories and getting them down into print. And some of these pamphlets are quite rare, too. Do you have any idea about what all this material is worth?
That's not why I got it. I saved it, literally, from a burn pile. They were fixing to burn it all.
Yeah, I'm glad that you did that. Well, the letter itself is worth about $500 or so, and each of these pamphlets is worth between $75 and $150. So all together, the retail value of these items here on the table is nearly $1,000. It's a great rescue on your part. You've joined the spirit of Frank Dobie in rescuing things from the past and preserving them for the future.
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.