The detail above comes from a wonderful find at Antiques Roadshow’s Louisville event in July. Painted by John Falter for a 1956 cover of The Saturday Evening Post, it drew an insurance appraisal of $170,000 from Kathleen Guzman of Heritage Galleries. The owner of the painting is also in the painting.
...carrying an eclectic mix of treasured heirlooms, fine antiques, and rarities to Antiques Roadshow.
By Larry Canale
Dana Terwell of Cincinnati was watching a cooking show on television and noticed all kinds of copper objects in the background. She loved the look, so she told her husband she wanted to collect copper decorative pieces for use around the house. "I already had a couple pieces," she said, "but not as many as I saw on Tyler Florence's show."
Dana's husband, Jason, reminded her that in their garage, they were storing a few copper items that had been owned by his grandmother, who had recently passed away. "My grandmother-in-law's estate was sold last year, but the auction house didn't take any of her copper pieces, which is how they ended up in our garage," she said. "The auctioneer said that copper didn't have much value anymore because of the number of reproductions in the market."
Jason "went out to the garage" and recovered the copper treasures, Dana said, and she put them on display in the house. But she was left wondering about their worth and authenticity.
In July 2007, Terwell found out. With her copper tea kettle in tow, she made the 100-mile drive from Cincinnati to Louisville, Ky., to attend her first Antiques Roadshow. Appraiser Robert DuMouchelle took a look at the kettle and was impressed enough ask Antiques Roadshow's producers to tape the appraisal.
Just like that, Dana found herself on camera, telling DuMouchelle the story of her tea kettle and then listening to his assessment. The kettle, he said, is an authentic antique made by Harbeson of Pennsylvania between 1763 and 1809. Today, it's worth around $5,000.
"The value was a true surprise," Terwell said, "mostly because of my faith in my grandmother-in-law's auction house. It's hard for me to think about it sitting in the garage for more than a year."
Terwell's kettle was one of more than 10,000 items carried into the Kentucky International Convention Center for Antiques Roadshow's July 28 visit. As always, there was no lack of highlights with memorable stories behind them.
GETTING A WORKOUT
Here's something you don't see at every show -- an 1890s exercise machine made by A. G. Spalding & Bros.
Lucas Hutton and his wife, Kathie, got a workout just transporting the rowing machine from their home in Elizabethtown, Ky., to Antiques Roadshow. Hutton originally bought the contraption "21 years ago for around $25 in Penfield, N.Y.," near Rochester, he recalled. Later, he was amazed to find a picture of the same unit in A Guide to the Biltmore Estate, a book he happened to be browsing.
The Biltmore Estate -- built between 1888 and 1895 near Asheville, N.C., by George Washington Vanderbilt II --includes an impressive workout gymnasium, as a photograph in the aforementioned book illustrates. Inside the gym, Hutton pointed out, is "the only other rowing machine [like his own] that I've ever seen."
The machine even gave pause to appraiser Ken Farmer. This type of item, he said, "is a guess market." Farmer, who owns KF Auctions in Radford, Va., then told the Huttons he'd give their exercise machine an estimate of $300-$500.
Another rarity to turn up in Louisville was a 19th-century trophy brought in by Bissell Roberts, who came to Antiques Roadshow with his daughter, Kim Robarts. (Yes, that spelling is correct; Kim Roberts married a man whose last name is Robarts, spelled with an "a.")
The European trophy is made of sterling silver and gilded gold and features hunting scenes carved in ivory. It first landed on the Sports Memorabilia table, where appraiser Simeon Lipman of Christie's examined it and then conferred with Eric Silver of Lillian Nassau LLC.
Silver, who was stationed at the Decorative Arts table, said the trophy is worth $8,000-$10,000.
The piece's value represents a nice return on Roberts's investment. "I think I paid $1,200 for the trophy," he said. "I bought it from a dealer in Georgia."
A bit of elbow grease helped: "When I bought it, the entire trophy was black -- I just cleaned it up," Roberts said. "It took three to four days of cleaning with silver polish to clean the metal," he continued, adding that he left the ivory section alone.
YANKEE DOODLE DANDIES
You want a story of a find? You got it.
David Schloot recently picked up a used first-edition copy of the J.R. Tolkien book The Silmarillion, from 1977. He paid $1 for the book at an estate sale. Later, while looking through the book, Schloot discovered a document tucked inside the book: a six-page program from a 1982 event (a roast, no less) honoring George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.
The program's front page was autographed by Steinbrenner as well as former Yankee heroes Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. It was in relatively fine condition, except for a stain on the front.
At Antiques Roadshow, Schloot and his wife Jenny found out that the piece is worth around $500, according to appraiser Lipman. Without the imperfection of the stain, its value would be a little higher.
Ray Lewis of Ashland, Ky., was perusing the items at an estate sale when he noticed a toy gun, the "Peacemaker," made by J.E. Stevens in the 1940s. Actually, it wasn't just one: "There were four of them, and they were still in their boxes, never played with," he says. "I bought just two of them -- at $25 each."
Now he's kicking himself: Appraiser Gary Sohmers told Lewis that a Peacemaker in its original box can sell for $500-$1,000 today. On one hand, Lewis wishes he'd bought all four. But, he points out, "We were buying furniture and other things that day."
At least (if you consider the glass-half-full angle) he knew enough to buy two Peacemakers instead of one. Lewis initially was attracted to the gun because he "had toys like them as a kid," he said.
Anne Boone of Louisville brought in an item with a personal connection: a Jimi Hendrix autograph she got nearly 40 years ago, when she met the legendary rock guitarist. The autograph is inked on a clipping of a newspaper ad promoting a concert.
Hendrix died in 1970 at age 27, so his signature is a rarity. It's valuable too: Boone found out from appraiser Sohmers that her Hendrix autograph has an insurance value of $1,500.
What adds value to Boone's Hendrix "sig" is a complementary piece: a photograph in which she's standing next to Hendrix in the lobby of the Netherlands Hotel in Cincinnati in November 1968 (see p. 11). The photographer was T. Alan Hartman, who later wrote a book, Guess Who's Coming to Cincinnati, filled with photographs he snapped of celebrities who visited the Ohio city. Hartman included the photo of Hendrix and Boone in his book.
"I was a huge fan of Jimi's," Boone said. "When his first album came out [Are You Experienced? in 1967], my grandfather bought me one for Christmas."
She's still surprised, she said, that her grandfather would buy her such a cutting-edge piece of music. She's also surprised at the value of her Hendrix autograph today: I hadn't really thought about it," she said, "although I have been curious about it."
To make the story a little better, Boone revealed she had still another Hendrix autograph at home -- this one on a concert ticket from the same night.
THAT'S ME, 2
Sarah Johansen brought in another item with a personal tie: a painting by John Falter (1910-1982) created for the July 21, 1956 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. The painting features the arresting scene of two small children dressed in costumes on the front porch of a beach house, with one of them, a little girl, "listening" to a sea shell offered by her grandfather.
The painting comes with airtight provenance: Johansen not only owns it, but she's in it. Falter, her stepfather, painted a depiction of himself with young Sarah (and sea shell) and a neighborhood boy in a spacesuit.
The painting's value? Appraiser Kathleen Guzman of Heritage Galleries said it might draw $100,000-$150,000 if Sarah "were to sell it at auction."
However, Guzman added, "since she has no interest in selling it and instead wanted to insure it to send it to the Nebraska Museum of Art for an exhibition, I thought a more appropriate retail value would be $170,000, based on the John Falter Saturday Evening Post cover of a Yankees game c. 1950 that brought more money."
Falter's style recalls that of another luminary known for Saturday Evening Post covers: Norman Rockwell. "Like Rockwell, Falter's painting brings us back to the nostalgia of our childhood, which brings a smile to our faces; it has an appeal to people of all ages," Guzman said. "The loving face of the grandfather, the wide-eyed innocence of Sarah listening to the sea shell, and the proud boy in his spacesuit all serve to bring us back to a simpler more romantic time. This is a picture that touches our hearts."
Ironically, Sarah Johansen noted, "Rockwell was a family friend." She recalls meeting him, in fact: "He regaled us with his stories and his dry sense of humor."
Rockwell "was more commercially promoted," she added, "but a lot of other artists did work like his for The Saturday Evening Post." Falter himself produced 187 covers for the popular magazine.
Larry Canale has been editor-in-chief of Antiques Roadshow Insider since its launch in 2001. He's also author of The Boys of Spring (2005) and Mickey Mantle: The Yankee Years (1998).