1888 Charles Russell Drawing
Whenever I see an item that's been attributed to the extraordinary American Western late-19th and early 20th century artist Charlie Russell, it usually comes with a really great story, too. So when did this first come into your family?
Late 1800s sometime. The story is that my great-great-uncle Phil Wynard was in Helena, Montana. And he got a job up in Alberta, Canada. He met two guys in a bar, and they asked him if they could come along with him. And these two guys in the bar were Charlie Russell and a guy named Stillwell. And he also found them a place to stay with a guy named Blunt. He had a cabin. As far as I could tell, neither Charlie nor Stillwell worked at all during that summer. They just hung around. But this Blunt that had the cabin they were staying in considered himself somewhat of an artist. He had some artist supplies that he gave to Charlie, and Charlie did some painting while he was hanging around. And when Russell and Wynard and Stillwell came across the border, there was a $20 tariff to bring the horses in. Wynard paid for their $20 tariff to come in. Okay, then after they'd been there, they left. Well, they left, they took his horse and saddle.
So technically, they were horse thieves. He left behind some paintings and some sketches. And Wynard said, "Well, they got my horse, I'll take their paintings." And so that's wherethen it came on down through the family to me.
That's perfect. 1888 ended up being a very seminal year for Charlie Russell. And the Alberta trip was really important. He stayed with the Blackfeet tribe, and the branch was called The Bloods. And it was there where he really began his affinity and his strong feelings towards the Native Americans. This is a graphite drawing of the artist painting, and wonderful members of the Blackfeet tribe watching his process. This trip is written up in a lot of the Russell literature. So there's an extraordinary paper trail for this really interesting and, in fact, double-sided drawing.
We have this Native American portrait as well of an Indian chief. The good news is, it's a great story. The news that we have to work on is to absolutely positively determine that it's an original Russell drawing. To do that, it would have to be researched, and it would have to be looked at by the Russell scholars. If we find out that it's after Russell, it would be a drawing with decorative value, which would probably be a couple hundred dollars. But the story, the references, I think it's a very good departure for research to have the piece authenticated. I think when it is authenticated, it could have an insurance value of $20,000. Russell is an extraordinarily important and beloved American artist.
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.