1824 New Hampshire Needlework

Value (2003) | $10,000 Auction$18,000 Insurance

I got it from my mother-in-law, who had a batch of these in her bureau drawer. Flung them out and said, "Do you want these?" And I said, "Yes, indeed I do." And that's how I came to have it. And the gal who made it at 11 years old in 1824 is my husband's great-grandfather's wife, but she was also his first cousin.

And where was Elizabeth Berry living?

She lived in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and there was a school there, I think, that-- finished young ladies-- and she must have had some association with that.

Well, this got all of us very excited at the folk-art table because, yes, you're absolutely right. There was a school. And I always think of needleworks in terms of women's education and how it evolved. We have a sneaking suspicion that it might be not quite Pittsfield, but very close by. About ten to 20 miles northwest of Pittsfield is Canterbury, New Hampshire.

Canterbury, all right. The home of the Shakers.

There's a very well-known group of needleworks which came out of Canterbury, many of which are distinguished by these two birds right here. Now, this is why I think it's Canterbury, or at least influenced by Canterbury, because of those two birds. Now, other Canterbury needleworks, in addition to the two birds, often will have two trees flanking them and strawberries between the banding instead of this fancy stitchwork. And certainly, given the proximity of the two locations, it would have been very easy for her to get there. Not only is this a wonderful document as far as women's education is concerned, it also demonstrated so much about Elizabeth's community, her education, her parents' ability to send her to a school where she would have learned needlework, and her eligibility for marriage. So this is a tremendous social document. It also hits on a lot of points for collectors. The 1820s is still a very desirable time that needlework collectors look for. And what really gets me about this needlework and which distinguishes it from others, is this fantastic blue color. The condition of this needlework is absolutely beautiful. Have you had it appraised before?

No, I simply got it one day, and here it is.

And you're interested in knowing something about value.

Very-- yes, of course, yes.

If this were a needlework from the 1820s from New Hampshire-- just a regular needlework-- I'd be valuing it at about $7,000 to $10,000, $8,000 to $12,000. With that blue I think it should be bumped up a little bit-- about $10,000 to $15,000. For insurance purposes, which is what you want because you're never going to sell it...

Never, never.

I would go as high as $18,000 for this needlework.

That is absolutely unbelievable.

It's wonderful.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2003)
$10,000 Auction$18,000 Insurance
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
19th Century

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.