German Music Box, ca. 1885

Value (2017) | $4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction

Oh, I've had it since about '93. It belonged to my aunt, and she left it to me when she died.

This is all hand-painted enamels. And most people in the trade would describe this as being Continental, they're from Germany. They made little boxes like this in Austria and France, and it probably dates from the late 19th century, 1880s, 1890s. Sometimes even after the turn of the century. And inside they have a mechanical clock movement that drives the sound of the music and everything. And on the top, I think I want everybody to see how beautiful the enamelwork is. This has a scene of two young lovers out in the forest on the top of it. All this beautiful cobalt blue and white enamel in the background along the edges, and it has little landscapes and little inset panels on the sides as you go around. Just exquisite work.

I think it's gorgeous.

It is gorgeous.

Is value an important thing to you? Is this something you're going to keep in your family?

Oh, I will never sell it.

Well, we felt like value was going to be somewhere in the $3,000 to $5,000 range.

That's a lot. (laughing)

Well, let's listen to it one time, what do you think?

Sure. (chirping) Now, isn't that darling?

That's beautiful.

How in the world did they get the wings to move like that and the beak?

It's an automaton. It has a little mechanical movement inside of it.

It's so tiny though. (chirping)

Appraisal Details

Ken Farmer LLC
Charlottesville, VA
Update (2017)
$4,000 Auction$6,000 Auction
Appraised value (2002)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Seattle, WA (June 15, 2002)

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.