California Miner Memorabilia
WOMAN: These diaries were written by James Russell, who was a miner in California who came out from Nantucket, Massachusetts. He arrived in California in early 1850. And the journals are written from 1861 to 1930, the year that he died.
What brought him over to the West Coast?
The gold rush. He was 19 years old when he heard about the gold rush.
He started writing the diaries in 1861, and what kind of things is he recording?
The daily life of the gold miner. Going out into the streams and panning for gold, the parties, the dances, the candy pulls.
We have a picture of him right here. Which one of the gentlemen is your great-great-grandfather?
He's this one right here, leaning against the shovel.
And where is that picture taken?
It's on Sweetwater Creek in El Dorado County.
We are pretty much looking at an amazing collection of 69 diaries where your great-great-grandfather kept meticulous records of the local history, the weather, I guess, and also important political events. And it has an amazing interest, I think, for the Northern California area. And when you came over to the table and I looked through the first diaries, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's just a terrific collection. Certainly, the personal value is far higher than anyone can imagine, but seeing that it has so much local history in there, and seeing the date, the consistency, and the amount of writing we find, I would probably value the collection at about $10,000 to $15,000.
He'd be pleased.
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."
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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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