Doll & Co. Ferris Wheel, ca. 1904

Value (2013) | $4,000 Auction$5,000 Auction

A fellow worked with me. He was 74 years old and he was retiring. His mother-in-law had died and his wife had died and he had two houses to clean out. I'm a train collector, and he wanted to know if I wanted to buy one of the trains. So we went up in the attic and there this was. Of course my wife fell in love with it right away. These figures were wrapped up in 1933 newspaper, and he said that his father-in-law had bought this brand-new. Everything was boxed. It was all in mint shape. He had an electric motor under there. He had the merry-go-round, the Ferris wheel and a few other items, and they were run... the train was run in conjunction with it.

And what did you pay for it?

I paid $200 for all of it, everything, and I couldn't get it all in my station wagon.

Holy mackerel.

And this was 20 years ago. I've owned this almost 20 years.

Well, you did the right thing.

I did the right thing. I'm not sure he did. He didn't care. It was stuff to him, and...

Well, it looks like it went to a good home.

It went to a good home.

Well, now let me tell you what I know about it. It is made by a company called Doll, a German company. They made wonderful things. They made gas stations, they made Ferris wheels, they made full-size steam-powered cars. This is one of their more elaborate items. It's a Ferris wheel, and it was designed to be run primarily as an accessory to a steam engine. A child would have a steam plant down here run a drive wheel to here, and actually that would power the toy. Now, you needed quite a steam engine to be able to activate this thing.

He used an electric drive and I had all the belts and the gang pulleys that run it.

Well, what's really remarkable is the condition. All these figures can be replaced. You can buy reproductions. But these are all original. They're just made out of, like, sawdust and painted and glue, its composition. You have the original flags, the original lamps. I've just never seen one in this kind of condition.

Is that right?

When something is extraordinary in condition, it's pretty hard to come up with a price because you throw out the rule books when it comes to something like this. If I were to estimate this at an auction, I think it would probably sell in the range of $8,000 to $12,000.

Oh! (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Noel Barrett Antiques & Auctions Ltd.
Carversville, PA
Value Update (2013)
$4,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Appraised value (1999)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 19, 1999)
20th Century

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.