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Value, Invaluable and Public Trust

I have become indirectly involved in the discussion of the value of a couple of planters.  I am definitely not a historian or an appraiser, my involvement is in the discussion of value, invaluable and public trust doctrine.

There is a historic house and friends own two planters that were purchased for the house in the 1940’s.  For the purpose of the discussion, each planter individually might be sold for seven hundred and fifty dollars, the two planters sold together that might be worth two thousand dollars.  The “value” of two matching planters is greater than twice the value of an individual planter.  If the planters were sold to the owner of the historic home, the value would be greater than two thousand dollars as the original planters add historic significance to the house. 

For me this is the part that becomes interesting, the two planters might increase the value of the home by fifty thousand dollars as the planters are historically significant and the planters also come with the provenance of the former gardner of the house (the original owner of the house gave the planters to the gardner as a gift).     

This house, could be referred to as a mansion and given the family history of the original owners, the history of the mansion, the family and area are significant to potentially become a historic house museum.  The planters now are invaluable, or beyond value.  The two planters that might be “worth” seven hundred and fifty dollars are now part of a larger historic narrative that is determined to be important to share in perpetuity (forever).  The planters could now become part of a historic museum and the museum board, and staff are    

Museums and Public Trust Doctrine Resources:

  • American Alliance of Museums (AAM), Public Trust and Accountability 
  • State of Connecticut, Living on the Shore Who Owns The Shore: The Public Trust

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at

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