18th & 19th Century Watches
My grandfather and my great-grandfather were jewelers in Augusta, Maine, and over the years, I imagine my grandfather traded or bought a number of watches. When he died we had a whole drawer full of pocket watches and wristwatches and things like that and before my grandmother sold them to another jeweler, she let me pick out the ones I thought were interesting.
These watches are to me very interesting because they don't look really like the watches you see today. And you have almost a whole history of several hundred years of watchmaking in these three watches. The first watch here is a very early English watch and just from the fact that it has a silver dial, it has this case made of silver as well. It opens up, the watch comes out of the case... You open up the watch further, you see the lovely dial, the hands that are known as beetle and poker hands. You open up the watch further and you see all of this beautiful work and a signature that says "Thomas Elliott, Greenwich, England." Well, Thomas Elliott was working in Greenwich, England, before 1720, so this is a watch that's very early. And next to it in the middle is another watch, and you showed to me the inside of the watch where there's a watch paper saying that someone repaired this in 1845, and next to it as well is another watch paper saying it was repaired in New York City down on the lower part of Manhattan. But when I looked inside this watch, I found a hallmark. This watch was actually made in 1797. And what's interesting when you open up this watch is that you see it's virtually the same kind of watch as the watch that we saw by Thomas Elliott even though it's almost a century later. This watch is what watches turned into very shortly after that and this is a watch made perhaps in about 1830 or so for sale in America. On the back of the watch you'll see a steamboat with an American flag-- very rare. Open it up, and you can see inside a completely different kind of watch, a Swiss watch sold by an Englishman to people in America. Very hard to find these watches this day. Do you have some sense of what this watch might be worth?
I really don't.
You really don’t.
I really have no idea.
This watch today would be easily worth $3,500, $4,000.
This watch about a tenth of that-- only about $300 to $400, and a watch like this about $700 or $800 because of this beautiful condition.
Oh, my goodness.
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.
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