George Washington Letter
The letter was sent by my sister to my grandmother from Paris in 1980 and I inherited it from my grandmother.
It may possibly be an American War of Independence letter. It was written to a member of a very well known Philadelphia family and it mentions all the names. It says here, "General Washington has the pleasure to inform Mrs. Powell," the recipient here, and mentions also Benjamin Harrison, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and, at the time, governor of Virginia and also the ancestor of two presidents of the United States. So it all hangs together in these few lines. And you see it's dated Saturday. And I'm just surprised at how it would have emerged in Paris. Did it come from a book dealer, perhaps, or...?
It came from an antique dealer, I believe.
Well, it certainly is...
I think their name was Charvonay or...
Charavay, yes, I remember that. I remember that firm very well. They're a well-known firm of autograph dealers in Paris. And it's certainly a wonderful gift to have given your grandmother. Well, the value of this, although not as enormous as some of the long Washington letters we've seen and being in the third person...
It's still, I think, quite substantial. I would think it's worth-- because of all its connections-- maybe $5,000 to $7,000.
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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