WWI Armistice Telegram Archive
My great-uncle served in World War I, and he was a radio operator. And he transmitted this message after the Armistice was signed to let the armies know that the war was over. He initialed it, he dated it, and put the time when he received the response back from each of the armies that he sent it to. He died when I was, like, three or four years old, so I never got to meet him, never really got to know him. I heard about the message and was always interested from being a little boy and started to talk to his daughter, and she gave it to me in 1997.
Well, what's interesting about this particular telegram, obviously there's historical importance of it announcing the Armistice for the end of the war, but you mentioned these notations. So he talks about receiving response back. This is happening while he's doing this. This is all real-time telling. This occupied the same space when this entire war was ending. And here we are, this year is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war, and this is a telegram signaling the end of the war. So obviously, there were probably more than one of these. There would have been ones from the Germans and the French and the British, and there would have been ones from different army units throughout the geography. But because this is one that clearly was annotated in the field, it's one of the early versions of it going out. Your great-uncle also wrote about this in a letter, and we have part of it here. Tell me about this letter.
Well, he wrote his father, describing some of the events when he was serving during the war. He actually wrote in the letter saying that he sent this message out.
Do you know where he was when he sent this?
I believe he was in Seuilly, France, but I haven't been able to substantiate that.
On the photograph, it says on the back, "Somewhere in France, Daddy." It would take some effort to figure out exactly where he was, but clearly he was in France at the time. From a collector perspective, you have the richness of the letter, which puts it all into context, and the fact that we know that it was there at the time, in the field, with original annotations as it was going out. And of course, to make it even more complete, we have the photograph of him at his signaling device. I would say we're looking at a minimum retail value of $2,000 to $2,500.
Oh, okay. That's more than I expected, really, so...
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.