1927 Folk Art Weissenborn-style Guitar
This is my grandfather's guitar. He made it, I believe, when he was around 18 years old, in 1927.
1927 would have been a time period when America was going through a huge craze for Hawaiian music. And the thing that makes this so unusual and cool is it's a fabulous and playable instrument. Some people call them lap guitars. The shape of this guitar body looks more like something that has a European origin, and the shape of the headstock is very unique, also. But what he does is he takes something that is really a very simple thing and makes it into an object of beauty. Does the barber pole inlay, and those little diamonds and dots in the neck are what you would normally see. And he made it out of the right kind of woods. Normally, to get a good sound out of something like this, you would do the back and the sides out of some kind of hard wood, and in this case, he used mahogany on the sides, and it looks like a piece of cherry on the back. But what he did in the front here is he used very nice quality spruce. It has appeal both as a folk art object, because it's very decorative, but somebody that was a musician, this would appeal to them also.
Was this a common thing, for people to make their own guitars back then?
It wouldn't be unusual that he would make something, but what's unusual is that he was able to do it to this level of quality and that it's held up so well. Sometimes, you get lucky and the person that made it puts their name inside there. It's got your grandfather's name and the date, 1927, and it says, "Wisconsin." Have you ever heard anybody play it?
Most people think that an instrument like this was meant to be played like a regular guitar. What you actually would do is play it like this. (demonstrating)
Listen to that. (laughs) Now, what they would do is take these bars, and that's what makes it Hawaiian music. (plays guitar in slide style) It's just got a beautiful sound, and we think, as a piece of folk art, that you should put an insurance value on this of $3,000.
Really? I'm so surprised. Thank you so much.
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.