Carleton Watkins Photograph, ca. 1863
I found it in my house. I'd lived there seven years and I found it in the attic when I was up rewiring the house.
What you have is a photograph by Carleton Watkins, one of the most important American photographers of the 19th century. The caption indicates that it's of Golden Gate Harbor, San Francisco Bay. What's exquisite about this photograph is the detail in it. In the rear of the picture, we can see a cemetery. In terms of the size of the photograph, it's very big. It's an albumin print, which is one of the most common photographic prints of the 19th century. And actually, the size of the negative turns out to be the size of the print. What happened before you apparently got it is that someone decided the picture was too big. Possibly they were trying to put it in a picture frame, and so they clipped or trimmed about three inches from the top of it. Not a good thing. These little tears in the picture don't concern me as much because the tears can be repaired in something of a seamless manner. But the disappearance of the top portion of the picture is something of a problem. Watkins' photographs of the Yosemite Valley, of which he made many in the 1860s, are very desirable. His pictures of San Francisco are very scarce. Had this picture not been cut, it would be a $20,000 to $30,000 photograph. The fact that it does have this disappearing top edge makes it difficult to estimate. I would say a conservative estimate at auction would be $4,000 to $6,000.
So thank you very much for bringing it in.
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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