Massachusetts Machinist's Level
One of my grandfathers purchased an old tool chest, then left it to my father, and at some point... I don't know if my father was going to sell it or if he was taking it out of the home, and he asked me if there was anything I'd like out of it, and I took this.
This is probably the most interesting tool I've seen on the ROADSHOW. And at first blush, what we see here is a level. A utilitarian tool. There's the vial on it, a typical what we call machinist level. He used an industrial setting. However, this piece is not an ordinary level. It's also a work of art. And that's what makes it really interesting and unique. If we look, we tilt it back here, it's covered with engraving flourished all over the sides. If we look at the top, what we see on the engraving, there's a hunter and then there's a dog. Later on, we see a tree and actually the elk that he's pursuing. So not only is it decorative engraving, but there's also probably something that the owner was interested in there represented in the level. It has "Taunton, Massachusetts, 1851." If we turn it around... We also know who owned it. It was owned by somebody called Thomas Morse. Not only was it made at the beginning of the American Industrial Revolution; it was made here at the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. And Taunton, Massachusetts, is in the heart of the New England tool-making industry. Well, I can tell you that a piece like this I have no doubt would be selling at least in the range of $1,800 to $2,200.
And with the right people, you know, it could go for quite a bit more.
I had no idea. That's great to hear.
Well, it's a wonderful piece.
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.