1884 Edison Light Bulb & Plaque
Well, uh, being a native San Diegan, I worked for the local utility, and I was in a department called the Art and Display Department. We built displays for the fairs and home shows, and it was appliances and things like this here, and, uh, during the '70s, they decided to get rid of this department.
And it found a home with you.
Yeah, right, so my old boss at that time-- I asked him if I could please have that, and he said, "Yeah, go ahead and take it."
Well, it was a nice gift of him to give to you.
Oh, yeah, now I'm realizing that today.
Well, I guess it's not a secret to anyone that this is a light bulb, but it's a very special kind of light bulb, and it has a presentation plaque, which is interesting. We don't know the truth or not behind the plaque. It says it was presented by Thomas Edison to a Mr. Raymenton and then later given to a club in the late '30s. But we know it's an Edison bulb for a number of reasons, mostly by the construction, and also because it has the original Edison patent label, which is actually applied as a paper label to the base of the bulb. It has the brass and ceramic collar at the base. It's in incredible condition, been protected in this case, and the carbon filament. Again, the big controversy with Edison was that... what were you to use as a filament in order to last for a long time, until he ultimately settled on the carbon filament. The reason that things like this are so interesting and so popular is because a person like Edison is so key to the history of technology in the country and in the world, and he's such a fascinating character, the more we learn about him, the more interesting he is. So, the number of collectors surrounding Edison and all his inventions and all his patents has grown dramatically, and of course, he's most known for the light bulb, something that really changed the face of the world for everyone.
Now, a light bulb like this from the late 19th century is pretty scarce, and they don't come up at auction very often. One from a little bit earlier than this recently sold in London for around $5,000. This one probably dates a little bit later than that, and I'd put it at $3,000 to $5,000 easily. If you could find out a little bit more about Mr. Raymenton-- maybe he was somebody very interesting that had an interesting association with Edison-- that might boost the value a little bit. But what you've got here is a fantastic piece that has great potential, easily in the $3,000-to-$5,000 range, and I'm really, really glad you brought it on the show.
Yeah, well, I'll have to thank my wife for that. She's the one who told me to get it out of the garage and into the house.
Get it out of the garage.
Here it is, and gee, that's really nice to know.
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.
Broadway's Best on PBS
Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles; One Man, Two Guvnors; Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn, and Lea Salonga in Concert.