Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Book, ca. 1920

Value (2014) | $10,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
I don't really know a whole lot about the book. I believe it's the first African-American beauty book.

APPRAISER:
How did you acquire the book?

GUEST:
A friend of mine. I'm a hairdresser, and he gave me the book. He thought I might enjoy it.

APPRAISER:
The cover title says it's the textbook of Madam C.J. Walker Schools of Beauty Culture.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
So, at first blush, it just seems to be a textbook and in the antiquarian book trade, we don't think a whole lot of most textbooks, but you really caught my attention when you said that this was an early hair products and hair care and styling book for African-American women.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Did you learn anything from the book?

GUEST:
Actually, I did. There are some home remedies I've tried out of the book, you know. And then some of the product in the book you can no longer get.

APPRAISER:
Well, the book's around a hundred years old, so...

GUEST:
Oh, really.

APPRAISER:
Not surprising.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
Let's open the book up here to the title page.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Here we have The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Manual. First edition. And it indeed is... the very first book published for hair styling and fashion for African-American women, which is very, very unusual. One more page I'd like to turn to that shows some of the hair care products. Quite a big, healthy line of different products.

GUEST:
Yes, it was very fascinating to me, looking at it and looking at the prices back then.

APPRAISER:
Pretty nostalgic.

GUEST:
Yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
You said that some of the methods and products involved in the book are still valid today?

GUEST:
Some are and some are not.

APPRAISER:
Okay. You would know far more about that than I.

GUEST:
Yes, I am a licensed beautician.

APPRAISER:
What's interesting about this book is, Madam Walker was actually Sarah Breedlove. She was born on a Louisiana plantation in 1867.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Her family were a slave family on a plantation and she was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation.

GUEST:
I didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
And the company that bears her name is still in business to this day making hair and facial products for African-American women.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
She also, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the first American self-made millionaire female.

GUEST:
Are you serious? I didn't know that, either! I had no clue.

APPRAISER:
Pretty fascinating.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
Do you have an idea of what the book's worth? I'm not for sure what it's worth. Maybe $3,000.

APPRAISER:
The book's in very good condition. It's not a fine- condition copy, but in today's market with the interest in early and important African-American material, the first edition of this book is scarce enough that at retail, this book would sell for $10,000-plus.

GUEST:
(laughing): $10,000?! Are you serious?

APPRAISER:
I am serious.

GUEST:
Oh, you're kidding!

APPRAISER:
No, I'm not.

GUEST:
$10,000?!

APPRAISER:
Yes, ma'am.

GUEST:
(laughing) I don't believe it! Thank you. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Salt Lake City, UT
Update (2014)
$10,000 Retail
Appraised value (2013)
$10,000 Retail
Event
Kansas City, MO (August 10, 2013)
Period
1920s
Form
Book
Material
Paper

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.