Autograph Album, ca. 1850
I have an autographed book that was in my father's house in Maine. The house had been in the family since 1790. He was the seventh generation. One of his great-aunts in 1850 to 1860-- that time frame-- went around the Washington area and collected a lot of autographs.
I have to say it's quite tattered and worn, but once I started opening the pages, there were some pretty wonderful things. A Longfellow autographed letter with a beautiful signature done at the bottom. And then on the next page is a little card that was pasted down that's from Abraham Lincoln. And I thought, "Well, that's an awfully good beginning. Let's see what else we can find here." Much to my surprise, on one page is not only Sam Houston's autograph, but Andrew Johnson's autograph as well. I just think that that's an interesting juxtaposition of having Andrew Johnson, one of the presidents, and then having Sam Houston with his splashy signature. It goes on, and lo and behold, a page later is a Jefferson Davis signature down towards the bottom of the page. But I have to tell you what really knocked my socks off was down towards the end of the album. After all the political figures, there is the signature of Stephen Foster, one of America's great songwriters. And that gives this album a little extra oomph at auction. It's something that I think would be in the ball park of $6,000 to $8,000.
Wow! That's wonderful.
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.
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