Woody Guthrie Drawings, ca. 1960
My father was a newsman for the Voice of America, and in the late '50s or early '60s, he interviewed Woody Guthrie for one of their cultural programs. And the story is that my father noticed these drawings on the table next to Woody and admired them, and Woody Guthrie pulled these three drawings off the top of the pile and handed them to him.
It's a wonderful story, and impeccable provenance, too, if I may say. Do you know much about the rest of his drawings or his other artworks?
Only a little bit. I recently got a book about it by Nora Guthrie, and all I know is there aren't very many of them in circulation. Most of them were in his diaries, in his journals, and so on, but that's about all I know.
As far as I'm aware, many of them are actually in the Woody Guthrie Archive in New York. He'd started drawing quite early on. Around about 1939, he was doing illustrations for the "Woody Sez" column that he used to write. And he was also known for doing drawings for his book "Bound for Glory," of course. And he worked in series. He did a series of drawings of Sacco and Vanzetti.
He did works around Coney Island. And he even did portraits and cartoons and all, all sorts of things like that. I was very impressed by the economy of line and the great directness of the imagery in these works. I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised by that. He didn't mince words and immensely creative when it came to self-expression. So I can imagine, when he didn't feel the lyrics were working, maybe he decided to do some drawings and see how that would work. It's interesting, because they fall into an area which is part collectibles, part fine art, part, you could almost argue, rock and roll-folk memorabilia. So you have a number of different groups I think would be interested in, in these works. Now, when exactly was that they were acquired from?
Late '50s, '60s.
Yes, because of course by then, he, he was suffering very badly from Huntington's chorea, which is a degenerative disease.
I've spoken to one of my colleagues who deals specifically with collectibles and autographs. And he had told me that just an autograph, such as this by Woody Guthrie, would be worth at least $1,000 to $1,500. And so on that basis, one must assume that for an original artwork, these should be worth at least, I would have thought, $3,000 to $5,000 each at auction. Thanks very much for bringing these in.
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.