Barrel Piano, ca. 1900

Value (2013) | $1,500 Auction$2,500 Auction

My grandfather pulled it along the streets of Baltimore and that's how he made his living. That was in the early 1900s.

This is called a barrel piano. Now, if you want to help me, we're going to take this top off. We can show the strings. There are your workings. So it's just like a normal piano except for, instead of having the keys you have this barrel here. That's pinned, and it's programmed so that as it plays it hits the notes that it needs to to play the music. The barrel can play eight different tunes. Let's see what it sounds like. (playing waltz tune) That's really good, that's in good condition. It needs some tuning, but at auction I think you'd probably fetch between $2,000 and $4,000, if you were to ever sell it, which I know you don't want to because it's a family heirloom. Enjoy using it, and let the world see it.

Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Chicago, IL
Update (2013)
$1,500 Auction$2,500 Auction
Update (2013)
$500 Auction$1,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$2,000 Auction$4,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 1999)
Metal , Wood

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.