German Nodders, ca. 1910

Value (2012) | $1,500 Retail

My father said that they're German soldiers, and we didn't ask that many questions back then. We don't know how the family got them, whether they came over with the original member of our family from Germany back in 1850s, or whether he came to Cincinnati, Ohio, and there was a big German population there, and they had German newspapers, so maybe they bought them there. I don't know.

I couldn't believe these when you brought them out of the box. At the table, we both were amazed. Something we've never seen, between us probably 70 years in the business. And it's really exciting to see something you've never seen before. They are German. I've seen similar items made in Germany with this incredible detail. They're made out of a base metal, some sort of an alloy, hard to say exactly what. Similar things that I've seen have been made, I would say, in the early 20th century or 1900 to 1910. Made as little tchotchkes to put on a shelf. They're kind of amusing because they're nodding their heads, little vibrations, and they're just in constant movement. They're called bobble heads or nodders. The distinguishing characteristic, of course, is the amazing detail both in the castings and the paint. Chances are, these were painted in what we call cottage industry, where the manufacturer would create the molds and cast the pieces, and then give them to handcraftsmen in the villages to paint. They're drinking, they're walking around with their violins. And why the horns? It's really hard to understand exactly what's going on. Typical German little hats like this. They're extraordinary. When it comes to value, it's a little harder to say. You certainly can't go into comparables. People who collect automotive toys or trains, they love to buy these to dress up their little displays, as well as there are people who collect nodders. In a retail setting, we figured at least about $250 a piece.

Wow. (laughs)

So you have $1,500 here.

That's super, great.

Thank you very much.

Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Appraised value (2012)
$1,500 Retail
Seattle, WA (August 18, 2012)
20th Century
Metal, Paint

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.