American & European Watch Collection
This is my inheritance from my father, who died 25 years ago, and he started collecting pocket watches and clocks in the late '60s. I was three to four years old. And he did this in order to pay his way through graduate school and some groceries and my doctor bills. And he thought when he made five or ten dollars those days on a watch, it was pretty good profit.
It sure was. Listen, money's money. But you told me that he then went to the credit union.
When I got ready to go to college, he took these to the credit union and borrowed against them for my first semester's tuition and he borrowed $10,000 those days.
When a collection like this comes in, you never know what to expect, but your father had an eye. We can start with the Vacheron & Constantin that you have here, in very, very good condition-- a little bit of deterioration on the radium numerals. But this watch alone is a thousand dollars today. We go over here and we look at the 60-hour Bunn Special, NOS, "new old stock." In the box you have the original container, you have the box, you have the papers. Bunn Specials today bring $1,500 to $2,000. I mean, what an eye he had. And then I want to take us up here, and we go to a rather obscure thing, a Tremont, made in Boston-- again, another $3,000 on a good day at auction. The only European watch in the batch-- not a great watch, but great-looking-- $500. And we come down here to the Veritas, which was made by Elgin, and it has an up-down indicator, which is a power reserve. It tells us how much power's left in the winding mechanism. And here, at auction, a solid $3,000 watch.
But what we're going to do, we're going to pick out the best one now-- you ready? This watch is made by the Columbus Watch Company.
They were only in business for a little more than a quarter century. They started around 1874. They were started by a guy who came in, Gruen, who was also in the watch business. He was with another fellow, Savage. It's a 25-jewel movement. And what I want to do is turn it around and show everybody. The first thing we notice is that it has a finish on the movement that's two-tone-- what we call two-tone damascening finish. This is fantastic in a railroad watch that was built in the United States. It also is a Columbus King model, which is very rare. One thing that's unusual about it is, you can wind it from the crown, but it also has another wind that you can wind with a key over here. And on top of that, it's inside of a very heavy 14-karat yellow-gold case. This watch was made around 1887. Now, if we turn it back around... you'll also notice... it has what we call a double sunk dial. In other words, the dial's made in three pieces, and it sinks once on the larger portion, then in the subsidiary seconds. So what do you think this one's worth?
$4,000 or $5,000?
That's a great guess, but I got to tell you, it's more like $6,000-$8,000. So if we tie the whole package up neatly, I think you're looking at something at auction around $16,000-$18,000.
Wow. Guess I shouldn't leave them in my car when I go to the grocery store anymore. (laughing)
My dad would be pleased.
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.
Broadway's Best on PBS
Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles; One Man, Two Guvnors; Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, and Lea Salonga in Concert.