For most collectibles, on the other hand, unless a piece is known to have belonged to illustrious owners (in which case, most if not all of its value is "celebrity" value-see previous page), provenance is not of much importance. A well-marked Weller vase in excellent condition is unmistakably that, and knowing who all its owners have been since it came out of the factory won't really add much to how the market values it. But history of ownership is an important aspect of evaluating some collectibles. Certainly, in entertainment memorabilia as well as in sports, there are endless questionable claims. This is why it is particularly important to keep that photograph of the celebrity or sports figure wearing or playing with that item in your collection. If you've ever owned a signed game ball or photograph, for example, you know that it's hard to verify that the star actually signed it himself. He may have had a representative do it for him.
Different Kinds of Value
As Antique Roadshow appraisers demonstrate on every show, there are many kinds of value, a number of which can operate simultaneously.
Sentimental value: Anyone who has watched Antique Roadshow guests carefully unwrap and show their preserved and cherished family artifacts is familiar with sentimental value. Indeed, sometimes sentimental value is the only value an object has.
Historical value: Many of the objects brought to Antique Roadshow are significant (sometimes even important) documents of their own time: they're our national heritage. Photographs taken by your GI grandfathers, for instance, of subjects as dissimilar as Polish prison camps or celebrities at USO shows, have real historical value.
Aesthetic value: Photographs of GI's in Europe taken by important photographers like Margaret Bourke White, however, have more than simple historical value. They have aesthetic value, that element of artistry, indefinable and indelible beauty that appeals to audiences other than just war historians. The plywood splints once designed by Ray Eames for wounded soldiers are beautiful and rare, and because they are as much biomorphic sculpture as they are splints, they, too, have acquired aesthetic value. Intrinsic value: Items made from costly materials, such as silver, diamonds, and gold, have intrinsic value. A silver wristwatch has some intrinsic value, but a platinum wristwatch is considerably more valuable, because in the precious-metals market, platinum is more expensive than silver.
Not surprisingly, collectors love those artifacts that once belonged to the famous. There is magic in acquiring John Lennon's piano or a set of presidential golf clubs. It's almost as if the original owner's spirit has somehow infused the object he or she once used.