William B. Tilton Guitar, ca. 1865
My grandmother used to clean house for people up at Holladay. And they gave her a guitar and she gave it to my mother, and my mother gave it to me.
The piece that you brought in today is exciting for a few reasons. It's an early guitar from about 1865 made in New York by William B. Tilton. Tilton was a bit of an inventor who came up with a lot of different ideas about guitar construction. And here's a great example of that American ingenuity. First, when we look at the top of the instrument-- typical spruce top-- but he's put the grain diagonally across the guitar, not parallel to the body of the instrument. Very odd, very offbeat. As we see inside with his silver plaque-- "Tilton Improved, New York"-- there's a bar that runs from the upper block straight on through the body of the instrument-- again, his invention. Of the Tiltons that I've seen in my time appraising, this is probably the best preserved and one of the highest quality ones. Wonderful peghead machines up here, silver medallion, the engraved silver tailpiece with this inlay pattern all around it. It's high Victorian design in all its aspects. It's a tough one to appraise for the reason that there's not a lot of them out there surviving and there's not a community of people who play them, though there's a small community of collectors. If I had this at auction, I'd probably be estimating it at about the $1,500 to $1,700 range at auction.
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.