Field Trip: Statue of Liberty Sculptures
HOST: The Statue of Liberty has looked out over New York Harbor since 1886. The statue's creator, Frèdèric Auguste Bartholdi, called her "Liberty Enlightening the World." ROADSHOW appraiser Eric Silver enlightened us on our visit to the New York Historical Society, where we saw a number of antique Statue of Liberty souvenirs and works of art. Eric, so many people have stories about the Statue of Liberty, either as tourists visiting New York and it's an icon they've hoped to see, or as immigrants coming here to America. It all was the brainchild of Frèdèric Auguste Bartholdi, a famous sculptor in France who thought this would be a great symbol of French and American unity, and the hope was that this would be up and erected and standing tall for the centennial of the United States in 1876, but it didn't go like that, did it?
No, they had to raise a substantial amount of money: $250,000 for the statue itself, and for the pedestal, which was designed by the American architect Richard Morris Hunt, they had to raise $100,000. They did exhibit the full-size arm and torch at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, and after the centennial, it was in Madison Park in New York City for six years. HOST: It wasn't until 1886 that we actually got the statue here.
That's right. HOST: She's 305 feet tall, making her the tallest free-standing sculpture in the country. But we have some smaller versions here, so tell me about these.
As part of the fundraising effort, Bartholdi made these reductions. He made them in four-foot, three-foot, two-foot and one-foot. And they were produced in France by a company called Avoiron, and the examples we have here are the three-foot and the two-foot versions. These are made out of a material we call spelter. It's also referred to as white metal or pot metal. It's primarily the metal zinc. Very soft, workable material. They are quite rare. The three-foot version came up in 1985, just before the centennial of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty, and it brought $121,000 at auction. But in 2013, one of the same size brought $37,500. HOST: That's a significant drop. I would imagine there was a boom during the centennial.
Exactly, a lot of collectors vying for these things. The one-foot version, the last one brought $3,000, so this two-foot version would bring somewhere between $3,000 and $37,500. HOST: Well, it's really wonderful to learn about the Statue of Liberty and the history and see these wonderful, wonderful replicas here. Thank you.
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.