1882 Surprise Box Cap Shooter
Tell me about this little cast-iron surprise box.
Well, I don't know a lot about it, but we bought it about 11 years ago in Pennsylvania, and it's part of a monkey collection that we have.
So you bought it as a monkey collectible.
What did you pay for it?
That's a lot for one monkey.
Well, we love our monkeys. (giggling) And we thought it was an unusual item-- you know, surprise box and all of that. Because it's mechanical. We don't collect a lot of toys, but that one we thought was very unusual.
I was really excited when you brought it in. And there's a very rare lead mechanical bank of an elephant, and I've always thought, "Hmm, maybe an elephant collector would bring in this bank." It had never occurred to me that a monkey collector would bring in probably one of rarest cap shooters ever made, and just really knocked my socks off. (chuckles) But it wasn't $500 for one monkey, because actually, as you know, what you do is you put a cap in here and when you pull this, the surprise is... So you get two monkeys, and that's the surprise. And as I say, it is a cap shooting device, and it dates from 1882. Made by a company called Lockwood. And in that era, cap guns were a really big thing, and they made all these different kind of animated cap guns, and as I say, this is probably one of the rarest. It's cast iron, and it's in remarkable condition. And as far as value... recently at auction, the last one of these that I know of, just within the last year, sold for over $3,000.
Really? So... Wow.
I hope that was a surprise.
It is a surprise.
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.