Appraiser Interview: Herman Miller Storage Unit, ca. 1950
In my world, this has now become a really important icon of the 20th century. There's examples in the Metropolitan Museum, in the LA County Museum, in every museum that has a good design collection, they all aspire to having one of these as really sort of a highlight of 20th century design. We were in a valley just a few years ago for this type of design. It reached a peak in about the year 2000. I actually sold a similar version to this for $71,000 in July of 2000 and that's still the world record for this model. That was a little bit better condition, it had a few more bells and whistles. When I sold that example for $71,000 in the year 2000, this one would've been worth about $25,000 but we're heading right back up to that level. And I wouldn't be surprised that this example could bring that kind of peak price again. There's some people who are waiting and waiting for a great example, this is it. INTERVIEWER: I think we have a great picture of you from last season throwing your arms around an orange Eames chair, do you remember that?
Yeah, I'm prone to affection to these types of objects. I don't have children and maybe, you know I'm a huge fan of Charles Eames. He and his wife, Ray, settled in Los Angeles in the early ‘40s and really made their mark on the design community based in Los Angeles. I'm from Los Angeles, as a young dealer, I just happened to find a lot of it and I got curious about it. He really was not only the most important American furniture designer of the 20th century, I claim that he's one of the most important furniture designers in the history of America. What he did and how he transformed the industry, almost single-handedly, it never happened before. INTERVIEWER: Have you ever made a ROADSHOW guest cry before?
No, yeah, I mean I've been on for about 14 seasons now, including this year, that was my first. My first one, you know, she starts to well up and I was like, come on, come on, give it to me. Let it build and it was really sweet. Very emotional, she was really excited to learn more and I was excited to learn about how she came across it. I was getting emotional myself.
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.