Maximilian & Bodmer Atlas, 1842-43

Value (2012) | $35,000 Auction$55,000 Auction

I see you've brought in a big English book. It's titled Maximilian's Travels in North America-- Plates. Unfortunately, your copy is a bit of a wreck. It's had a rough life. You have one of the most famous plates, 28, which is a fragment only. The title page is also a fragment. The author's name was Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, and Maximilian was a prince in what is now Germany, but this is before the unification of Germany. Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied came to the States traveling up the Missouri, and he recorded with artists... the artist principally is Karl Bodmer. Karl Bodmer recorded instances of Native American life. I've counted the list of plates, and you should have 81. There are only 79 in all, without these fragments, okay? The book was very expensive to produce, and it comprises prints that were originally uncolored, or maybe tinted, aquatints, and they were then in most cases colored by hand. The book was published simultaneously in Koblenz, London and Paris in 1839 through 1841. This list of plates and its binding show that it's clearly the English edition, which was published by an engraving firm and publishing company called Ackermann. Here we have a typical illustration of a Sioux warrior. And then you have a Dakota woman. And here's a landscape one. They did them in smaller format. And this shows Fort Union. And here's a further dramatic one towards the end of a bear feasting on buffalo bones. Can you tell me how you acquired this book?

My great-great-uncle was either a merchant marine or a fisherman along New York, and found this floating in a crate as he was out working.

They found a crate floating?

Found a crate floating in the ocean, and the book was in the crate. Although there's evidence of damp, there's not any evidence of it being soaked. The book in complete full color, it's been known to bring reaching towards half a million dollars. This copy has not got the full color, which immediately brings it down a huge notch. It's also got significant damages, as we've seen. A conservative auction estimate would probably be $35,000 to $55,000.

Wow. That's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2012)
$35,000 Auction$55,000 Auction
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)

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.