E. Howard Pocket Watch, ca. 1861

Value (2012) | $4,000$6,000

Now, you brought these for a relative of yours?

For my father. He couldn't come, so he sent them to me and I said I'd bring them.

Now, there's one of them that's far more interesting than the other and it's the silver one with the cover on it, which, according to what you told me, was found on a battlefield during the Civil War?

Yeah, it came to someone by picking it up off the battlefield. I don't know who it belonged to.

What's interesting about both of these watches, which are both American, is that this one illustrates the very early period of American watchmaking. First of all, you open the front cover of the watch and turn it around like that and you'll see a name on the dial, and it says "E. Howard & Company, Boston." Now, E. Howard was a very interesting individual because he is one of the fathers of American watchmaking. Now, the reason why American watchmaking is so interesting to us today is they were the first people who successfully manufactured precision equipment in very, very large quantities. This is one of the earliest Howards that I've ever seen. And Howard is remembered today amongst collectors of watches because he made watches that looked like nobody else's watches. So when we begin to look at this a little more closely, we can turn the watch over and look at the back...and see the movement. And this arrangement of plates and wheels was never seen before, but it was a way that Howard could make watches so that they could be assembled by machinery and then sold relatively economically to a populace that could never have afforded a watch before. And the Howard, for the time that the company was in business from about 1858 to 1903, made really the finest watches in the world. A Series Two Howard-- only 1,200 of these watches were made in comparison to maybe tens of millions made by Waltham and the other companies. So the bottom line really is that a watch like this, an ordinary watch, really has sentimental value and nothing else. The Howard, on the other hand-- it's worth anywhere, let's say, from $1,500 to $3,000.


A very collectible and desirable American watch.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, NY
New York, NY
Update (2012)
Appraised value (1998)
Milwaukee, WI (June 20, 1998)

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.