1940s San Francisco's Stage Door Canteen Log Book

Value (2004) | $15,000 Auction

I knew this lady. Her name was Freda Marcy. And she's right there and right there. I knew her slightly by going to antique stores. And I went to an antique store one day and they said, "Freda's going to sell some of her things." She said, "I've got this book. Would you be interested in it?" And I said, "I don't know anything about it." And she said, "Well, make me an offer." And so I thought, "Well, $150."


And she said, "I'll take it." And that's how I came to acquire it.

These are actually at the Stage Door Canteen. Right at the Stage Door Canteen, And you can see the photographs of the famous stars there. And Freda was there from 1941 through 1945, when they closed it down. When did you come into possession of this book?

I bought the book in 1991.

What you purchased was a book related to the Stage Door Canteen in San Francisco. The Stage Door Canteen-- there were three major ones: one in New York, one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. And they were a place for servicemen to go and the movie stars would entertain them, dance with the soldiers, wait on them, cook for them and wash up after them. This was part of their war volunteer work. What you have here is the log book for the Stage Door Canteen. Every page is dated, and then they would sign in on that particular day. And you have some fairly interesting people who volunteered to work. This page here is the Three Stooges. Very unusual to find, very heavily forged today. They were signing in to do their day's work. This was to sign in for the start of their shift. This is a $2,000 autograph for the three of them. Now, Shirley Temple is not the rarest of autographs. She was around for a long time. She signed-- but she signed in with her family. They obviously all came down to work. And here we have another difficult autograph to get, Mr. Cary Grant. Now, I'd loved to have had Cary Grant be my bartender and make me a martini. Can you see that? He was most likely washing dishes or something, you know. But a good Cary Grant, again, is in an $800 to $1,000 range because you can absolutely authenticate it. The market is flooded with fake examples of Cary Grant's signature. And then, some of them got more elaborate. This is the famous magician, Blackstone. And he did a full-page caricature of himself, which is just brilliant. I mean, this is a work of art. And this is a $2,000 piece because magic materials always has a premium, even above movie star material. So you have, I would say, 250 autographs in this book. Now, did you make any attempt to sell this book?

I had an autograph appraiser look at it. She started out by saying, "Well, I'd cut this and I'd cut that," and that made me mad. And they told me $1,200 at the time, which was 1991. And I said, "No, no." And I wasn't going to sell it anyway. And I think it was worth more as... as a historical thing.

Well, what a dealer would do is take the book, as you say, and cut out the individual names. They then make a matte, they put the name at the bottom with a small die-cut window, they get a nice 8 x 10 of the person and put it above and then they sell it for quite a bit of money. This book, as is, is worth $15,000.

Oh, my God, no. No, really?

If you were...

To break it?

...to break it and cut it up, you could get about $45,000 worth of autographs out of this book. It's really odd that by destroying it you increase the value.

I won't destroy it. I'm dumbfounded.

Oh, it's an amazing collection. It's a fantastic document of that period.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
Los Angeles, CA
Appraised value (2004)
$15,000 Auction
Portland, OR (August 21, 2004)

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.