Doll kept at Woburn library for 89 years sells for $250,000
WOBURN, Mass. (WHDH) -- A doll kept in the Woburn Public Library for 89 years turned out to be worth a pretty penny.
The little wooden figurine brought the library more than $200,000 at a recent auction.
Officials at the library had no idea it was worth so much -- in fact, they originally had experts looking at another piece.
The 19-inch Native American wooden doll was hidden away upstairs in the museum at the Woburn Public Library for almost nine decades.
“The doll had a mask on its face, which by a lot of people from our backgrounds, would be frightening,” said Richard Mahoney, library trustee.
But the seemingly "ugly" doll fetched the library a pretty penny at auction.
“We had no appreciation of the value. A number of years ago I think in the ‘90s I think we had it appraised and it was about $2,000,” said Mahoney.
When the library had Sotheby's, a New York auction house, appraise a couple of busts, the doll caught the eye of the appraiser.
“He looked at the doll and appraised it and estimated it could be worth $50,000 to $70,000. And we were, ‘Wow, let’s get it ready and auction it off,’” Mahoney said.
Just weeks ago, it sold at auction for more than $250,000, netting the library $210,000 much to the surprise of the library's archivist.
“It had actually been catalogued as a Central American doll, so that was a bit of a red herring,” said Thomas Doyle, archivist. “I have a background in anthropology so I would have hoped to have seen that, but yeah, it was mis-catalogued. I did a little research, it was from a captain who was involved in a China trade and it came over very early in the 1820s.”
In an effort to raise money for a major renovation and addition, the library has been looking to sell archived items that weren't part of Woburn’s history.
Now, they're taking a closer look at their entire collection.
“My first reaction was, ‘let’s sell everything,’” Mahoney said.