Men's Needlework Wallet, ca. 1775

Value (2014) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

After my mom passed eight years ago, I was helping my dad go through things in the house. I came across that and I asked my dad about it. He said that was something that was my mom's. It's from her side of the family. He really didn't know anything about it. And I was quite taken with what I was guessing to be needlepoint. And then I opened it up and I found a collection of letters that date back to 1770s, and these letters are all to the Massachusetts, Duxbury and Boston area, and that's where my mom's family is from.

All right, well, I think that explains a lot. I'm looking at it as an example of early American needlework. This would have been a man's wallet.


This would have been probably produced by a girl in school. Needlework was an essential part of a girl's education. All the colors in this are derived from nature, they're all natural colors. And it's made of wool. And it must have been quite a process putting this together. This is in remarkably good condition. These are always like in really tough shape. This is gourmet food for moths, all right? But we look at this, and it's so well preserved. Look at these colors. They're absolutely dazzling. And we're looking at a piece that was made in the last third of the 18th century, probably in the Boston area or in the South Shore towards Duxbury, Massachusetts. We turn it over and even on the back this is glorious, absolutely glorious. And the fact that all these family papers are inside, it's just loaded with them. I mean I got goose bumps when I saw all of this stuff. So these papers, with a little bit of research, might tell us who made it. This essentially with just a little bit of loss here and there is as bright as the day it was made. And that makes an auctioneer get all excited, I'll tell you.


So this has very good value. Got any ideas at all?


All right. Well, I think probably it's worth in the area between $3,000 and $5,000.


Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2014)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Detroit, MI (June 01, 2013)
Folk Art

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.