1903 Gutzon Borglum Bronze Sculpture

Value (2012) | $6,000 Retail$8,000 Retail

GUEST:
I was out shopping around looking for some stuff to put in my garage, in the mancave, and was leaving a secondhand store, a thrift store, about a half-mile from my house. It was bronze, and so I figured that it probably had some sort of value, so I bought it, but without recognizing the artist or knowing anything about it, really.

APPRAISER:
And you did a little bit of research. So the artist is Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore. He's one of the more prolific American sculptors of the earlier part of the 20th century. He studied in Paris with Rodin, and in 1927 he started Mount Rushmore, for which he's really, really well known. This was a piece that was exhibited at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. And it's sort of an unusual subject matter for an American sculptor. Can you tell us what the subject matter is?

GUEST:
Well, it's a sculpture of Nero. It's maybe a different image than most folks know of Nero.

APPRAISER:
As a regal emperor.

GUEST:
That's true.

APPRAISER:
Ah, ruling his domain.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
It's signed over here, and it has the date. And then on the back, it has the foundry, the Roman Bronze Works in New York, which was in Corona, Queens. And they were probably the leading foundry in America. They're very, very important, especially for casting the works of Frederic Remington. This is signed "Roman Bronze Works" on the back, but it also has the date, and I've really never seen that on Roman Bronze Works sculpture. The piece is cast out of bronze. It is hard to document these, and it's also hard to know how many were cast. The actual archives of the Roman Bronze Works are at the Amon Carter Museum, and you might be able to contact them. They have the records of when things were cast, and they have files of correspondence between the foundry and the artist. I just wanted to mention briefly about the condition. It does have this green, which is corrosion. It's like the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It was made out of copper, and from corrosion, it turns green. It's not really supposed to do this. And I think it's something that really needs attention by a professional conservator, if you want to clean this off and just prevent it from affecting the surface more. Now, you saw it in this thrift shop, secondhand shop.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
And what did you pay for it?

GUEST:
I can't remember if I paid $7.99 or $8.99, plus tax.

APPRAISER:
Plus tax.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
Did you ask them if they could do better on the price, or you just decided it was a pretty good deal?

GUEST:
I figured eight dollars was probably a fair price.

APPRAISER:
It's not the kind of subject matter that people think of Borglum, but it is interesting nonetheless of this great historical figure. I think in a gallery setting, this would probably be in the $6,000 to $8,000 price range.

GUEST:
Great. That's wonderful. Not a bad return.

APPRAISER:
Not a bad return.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Lillian Nassau LLC
New York, New York
Appraised value (2012)
$6,000 Retail$8,000 Retail
Event
Myrtle Beach, SC (June 23, 2012)
Period
20th Century
Form
Sculpture
Material
Bronze

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.