1791 George Washington Silhouette Miniature
I've got a friend who's a dealer in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He called me once and said he had found a silhouette of George Washington and just really kind of piqued my interest, and so he emailed me a photo. I said, "I love it, send it to me." He said, "It's going to need some work," and I said, "That doesn't bother me." There was a card on the back that the lady had put that her father or great-grandfather bought it, you know, and where he had acquired it. There was areas missing on the frame and a lot of the beading was either loose and some segments were off. And they pointed out that it originally would have had some type of mat around it, and so the recommendation was to make that black, oval circle the mat.
So this part here?
So you had this glass made, okay.
That glass was made.
And then the paper part, this was all original, and that's just regular laid paper, which is 18th century paper. So what you have is a really detailed silhouette portrait. And it's amazing, if you think about it, how much you can tell from the profile. You know, you look at that and you know it's George Washington. The lace is wonderfully done, this, all in ink. If you look at the back here, you see this looks like a scratch at first, and this is actually the back of his wig, the long hair coming down, and that's negative space here. These two lines I think are probably scratches. Most importantly, you have here "S. Folwell," for Samuel Folwell, and then the date, 1791. Samuel Folwell was born in 1765 and he died in November of 1813. The great thing here is that I see that when you sent it to the conservatory, they put acid-free paper behind that original paper, which is so smart, and then they attached back this original backboard, which is probably yellow pine. And I can read here, "Likeness of General George Washington taken in 1791 while on a visit to the city of Charleston, South Carolina." George Washington was in Charleston, South Carolina, in May of 1791. So you have here Samuel Folwell, who we know worked in Charleston, and he was there in 1791. He worked in Philadelphia, he worked in New York, but this is one place he worked. So you put those two together, and I really think there's a very good chance that this is actually from life. If this were just one of the later portraits-- another one came up with a 1790s date, but not this early. That brought about $9,500, okay?
Gosh. That would be great.
Now, if it turns out to be from life, I think this has easily the possibility of being worth $15,000 to $18,000.
You're kidding, wow.
It deserves to be someplace special.
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.