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Painting Delaware Dad Bought With His Kids for $300 Now Worth $125,000

An episode of Antiques Roadshow showed how a father's love of reading illustrated books to his kids led to this family heirloom.

Dennis tells his story to appraiser Debra Force on the Antiques Roadshow in Winterthur.

From Antiques Roadshow

In June 1960, a Delaware dad who loved to read illustrated books to his kids received a gift from his wife: $300 that she had saved, $5 a week, from her food budget.

“You can go down to the Schoonover studio and pick out a painting,” read the card she gave him, said her son Dennis on an Antiques Roadshow episode filmed at Winterthur last year that aired Jan. 6.

The family headed to the studio in Wilmington, DE and picked up At a Hail from the Boat He Went to the Rail, an illustration by Frank Schoonover from the 1923 book Privateers of '76, about a Massachusettes boy and his adventures at sea during the American Revolution, according to the Delaware Art Museum.

An emotional surprise

The painting, Antiques Roadshow appraiser Debra Force told Dennis (whose last name was not given), would likely fetch $125,000 if it went up for auction today.

At this news Dennis became emotional.

“My father would be so thrilled to know that people were being turned on to illustrations, and my mother would be really thrilled with what you just said,” he said.

You can see the full segment here and if it inspires you, the painting will be on display at the Delaware Art Museum for the next six months along with seven other illustrations from Schoonover, an artist of the Brandywine School who moved from Philadelphia to Wilmington — the "epicenter of American illustration" — to study with Howard Pyle and eventually set up his studio and teach.

You can also visit Schoonover Studios on Rodney Street in Wilmington, which is now run by Schoonover's grandson John.

“I was very pleased to see my grandfather’s illustration on Antiques Roadshow, and glad Debra Force acknowledged the increasing interest in American book and magazine illustration,” said John Schoonover, whose grandfather was one of the founders of the Wilmington Society of Fine Art, the predecessor of the Delaware Museum of Art.

Sunday, Jan. 12 is a "Family Second Sunday" with special activities for families and free admission wth a suggested $10 donation.

If you're looking for other family-friendly museums, check out our Places to Visit Guide and don't forget to bookmark our list of other musuems where you can get in free or for a discount.

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