American Card Collection, ca. 1935
These were my father's cards. I was cataloging my son's cards one day and he said that he didn't have many sports cards, but he had a lot of Indian cards. And we went around and found them in his closet.
It's very interesting. It's an extensive collection of "non-sport cards," they're called. They date from the 1930s and they're among the first cards that were actually sold with bubble gum. Kids collected them for the first time. Before that, kids had to get their cards from their parents who'd get it in tobacco packages. You have quite an extensive collection here. You have Indians, aviators, pirates, boy scouts, comic characters. Dozens of companies made these cards, and there were literally hundreds of sets made. By the late 1930s, war was looming, and a lot of kids were very interested, just like today, in battles and ships and things, and they began to make war cards. We have these here as well represented. Your collection actually has about 500 or so cards. Among them are a few sport cards, but not baseball cards. You have a football card here: Knute Rockne, the coach of Notre Dame. That's probably your best card in the whole collection. You also have hockey cards, golf cards, basketball cards. You also have an enormous variation in condition in your cards. You have one here that's in excellent condition of Sitting Bull; one next to it in fair condition; and another one with a punch hole and a tear in poor condition. I'd say the majority of your collection is probably in fair condition. These aren't just cards; they're miniature pieces of American pop culture circa the 1930s. People love them. I'd say your collection—around 500 cards-- is probably worth about $2,000 to $3,000.
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.