Part adventure, part history lesson, Antiques Roadshow is filled with surprises. As the roadshow travels from state to state, they invite people to bring in antique items to get appraised. Many times, there is more to these items that meets the eye.
Whether it’s a set of jewels that once belonged to the Emporer of Japan or an early Diego Rivera painting, many of the items brought onto the show are worth a lot of money. So we decided to see what the fuss was all about! Here is a list of our favorite “ah-ha” moments from the famous show. By the end of the list, you’ll be inspired to rummage through your attic, too!
This beautiful 1910 Tiffany & Co. necklace was given to a woman by her mother-in-law. The necklace is a high-collar piece, with top-of-the-line stones and a massive teardrop pendant. While the piece is beautiful, the woman only wore it once.
The woman knew that there was something special about this piece of jewelry; she just didn’t know what. So when the appraiser revealed how much it was worth, she was taken back. “You are seeing less and less of this material in the marketplace,” the appraiser told the woman. It was appraised for $40,000 to $60,000! “Wow! That makes my heart skip a beat,” the necklace owner said. Can you imagine?
When this gentleman brought his sword to the roadshow in 2011, he wasn’t expecting it to be worth that much. He had previously purchased it for a $500, after thinking that it was quite the show-stopping item. The antique sword is decorated with various diamonds and silver, as well as the Cyrillic monogram of Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor.
When appraiser Mark Schaffer told the antique sword owner how much money it was actually worth, he almost fell off his chair! Schaffer estimated that the sword was valued from $75,000 to $100,000. He also said that the item is officially called the Jeweled Caucasian Presentation Sword and is a true treasure from the early 20th century.
Good thing book expert Ken Sanders was there to appraise this one. The owner didn’t know a whole lot about the item she brought in, except that it was an old hair-styling book for Black women. The book was gifted to her because she is a hairdresser, and she never put that much thought into where it came from, or how much it was worth.
When Sanders revealed that the book was over 100 years old, the owner couldn’t believe it. It turns out that this book was a first edition of Madam C.J. Walker’s styling line, and the first book ever written on Black beauty regimens. When the owner found out that her book was valued at $10,000, she burst into uncontrollable giggles.
When the show’s jewelry expert Geoffrey Munn saw this gentleman bring in a decorative flower, he immediately felt his “pulse race.” Munn knew immediately that it was an original Peter Fabergé piece. For those who are unfamiliar with Peter Fabergé, he was a Russian jeweler who was most famous for his extravagantly decorated Easter Eggs.
At six inches long, the decorative flower is made of diamonds, gold, and jade. Munn valued the flower at a whopping $1.5 million, making it the most expensive item ever shown on Antiques Roadshow. Munn also called the item an “object of fantasy” because “it has absolutely no function whatsoever except to be a source of pleasure.” This piece is definitely one of the most memorable items on the show!
This woman didn’t know anything about the collection of watches she brought into the antique convention. She stumbled upon the collection while she was cleaning up her father’s office. The watches, which were stored in a cardboard box, were made by some of the biggest names in watchmaking: Rolex, Cartier, and Patek Philippe. One of the watches even had an 18k gold chain strap.
The appraiser proceeded to value each watch, one by one. The woman couldn’t believe what she was hearing and began to tear up. The appraiser estimated the entire Swiss watch collection to be worth anywhere from $46,000 to $57,000! Her father had that much money sitting in a dusty cardboard box in his office this whole time!
James Keener inherited this sculpture from his great-great-aunt, and when he heard that the Antiques Roadshow was passing through Houston, he decided to bring it for an evaluation. The sculpture was, in fact, signed by Rodin, a famous French sculptor and the father of modern art.
Expert Eric Silver believed that this item was an authentic bronze sculpture from Rodin’s time. He said that Keener would still have to get it authenticated, but if the sculpture turned out to be the real deal, it would be worth around a half a million dollars! Keener was stunned. “I’m flabbergasted. I suddenly want a beer,” he said. As it turns out, this statue was a real Rodin.
Way back in 1871, this woman’s great-great-grandmother had a boarding house in Boston. It just so happened that this boarding house was home to the Boston baseball team, who were some of the first professional players in the sport’s history. This woman’s great-grandfather collected these men’s cards, which ended up being some of the earliest photographic baseball cards.
Besides the baseball card collection, this woman also had a bunch of letters from the team that were addressed to her great-great-grandmother. These letters were personal and even mentioned her cooking! The appraiser on hand valued the entire baseball memorabilia collection at $1 million. “Are you serious?” the woman asked. “I better put it in a time fund!”
This lady never put too much thought into this painting. All she knew was that it would go perfectly on her freshly-painted walls. Her mom actually picked up the painting at an estate sale about 15 years before and had kept it lying around the house.
As it turns out, this painting was an original Earl Moran pin-up painting. “This is a very special one,” the appraiser said. “She is a very wholesome young girl wearing a bright green bathing suit, the great period car, the period sailing.” The appraiser finally revealed her estimate, valuing the painting between $20,000 and $30,000! “Is my mom going to see this?” the woman asked. “Because she’s not getting it back!”
David Rose worked at a dump and would often spend his time collecting interesting-looking objects that had been discarded. Rose believed that he had stumbled upon some items that had once belonged to former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
Rose found a top hat, a cigar and a case, and some letters from Churchill’s chef to her son, which gave some insight into the former Prime Minister’s life. The show’s expert, Mark Smith, said that Rose’s dumpster collection could rake in around $15,000. “Oh my god, that’s crazy,” Rose said. “I’ve worked there for like 15 years, and I get to pull out whatever I like, mostly antiques.”
This woman bought what she thought was a massive cubic zirconia gem set in silver for only $30 dollars at an auction. For those who don’t know, cubic zirconia is a synthetic gemstone that looks like a diamond but is much cheaper.
But when this woman held the ring in her hand, she noticed some strange markings, leading her to believe that this ring was worth a lot more than what she had bought it for. After careful examination, the Antiques Roadshow crew realized that the ring was actually made up of many gems, not just one. These gems, however, were not cubic zirconia. They were all diamonds! The expert estimated that this ring was worth between $25,000 and $30,000!
The owner’s father had visited China on two separate occasions in the 1930s and 1940s. During his time there, her father brought back some jade pieces with him in the process. The items are so detailed that if you don’t look closely, you might miss something. The items also have the imperial order mark, meaning that they were created for the Emperor of the Qing Dynasty himself!
When the appraiser revealed his estimation, the owner was shocked, to say the least. He said that Qianlong Jade Collection was valued anywhere between $710,000 and $1 million. The owner was clearly at a loss for words; she just shook her head in disbelief. That’s a life-changing moment right there!
This man brought in a portrait he had inherited to the showroom in Birmingham, Alabama. The portrait was painted by the famous American artist Frederic Remington in 1896. As it turns out, the owner’s great-grandfather, Lea Febiger, was close friends with Remington, so much so that he was used as the subject for a painting!
The famous Western artist gifted his friend the portrait, along with a personal letter that details some of the adventures that the two got into in their youth. The appraiser, Colleene Fesko, estimated the value of this painting to be between $600,000 and $800,000! “My goodness!” the owner of the painting said. My goodness indeed.
When the Antiques Roadshow passed through Las Vegas, one guest started to cry on camera after she learned the true value of her family heirloom. The woman inherited a ring from her grandfather’s pawnshop, but she never really knew the true extent of its value. Good thing the show’s jewelry expert, Adam Patrick, was there to weigh in.
Patrick informed the woman that the ring had an extremely high quality and well-preserved five-carat Asscher-cut diamond. The ring was most likely made around 1915. Patrick says that such a ring would sell anywhere between $165,000 and $175,000 at auction. The owner was so taken back by the appraisal that she was moved to tears.
This lady made quite the effort to bring this painting in to the Antiques Roadshow convention in San Diego, California. The painting is a portrait of her grandmother, who was an aristocrat in Yorkshire, England, and it was painted by artist Robert Henri, who was a family friend. When the family first had the painting appraised, it was valued at around $4,500.
The appraisers believed that although it was painted by a famous artist, it wasn’t a portrait of someone of importance, so no one would want the painting. Well, good thing this woman decided to see what the experts at Antiques Roadshow had to say. In 2010, it was valued between $250,000 and $300,000. However, as of 2016, it is worth between $500,000 and $700,000!
Unlike many people that come on to the show, this man knew a little bit about his painting. He knew that it was an early Diego Rivera piece, and, because of that, it held some significance. The owner also said that his great-grandparents had purchased the painting in Mexico in 1930, and he remembers it hanging on the wall of their home.
Well, after speaking with the Antiques Roadshow experts, this man learned that the painting was actually made in 1904 when Rivera was just 18 years old. Appraiser Colleene Fesko also said that this piece is very special because not that many paintings exist from that period. She valued the painting between a whopping $1.2 and $2.2 million!
This lady brought in a Spontoon Tomahawk Pipe that her husband found while helping someone clear out their house. While the object has a very sharp blade, it also has a pipe bowl, which Native Americans used for signing peace treaties. According to appraiser Ted Trotta, this object is a unique Native American invention and is not found anywhere else in the world.
Trotta also said that the piece dates back to the French and Indian War and was most likely made in the 1840s or 1850s. The woman had no idea how much it was worth and was very taken back when Trotta told her his estimated value of $30,000! “This would make a collector really, really happy,” he said.
This colorful tinware pot was passed down through the generations in this woman’s family. Although she never knew the exact value, she does remember it being very precious to her grandfather. He would often wrap it up and hide it whenever guests would come over. The pot, which was made in 1880, was known to this woman’s family as the chocolate pot.
Appraiser Kelly Wright says that the pot is a classic example of a Pennsylvania Dutch tinware that was very popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. Wright also said that the tinware was used to make coffee, and the painters of these types of pieces usually stayed anonymous. Since the piece was in such great condition, Wright valued it between $7,000 and $9,000.
When this man brought in an original Norman Rockwell painting, he knew it was worth a lot, but he never thought it would be worth half a million dollars! The painting, Little Model, had been in his family for over 90 years. It was given to his great-great-grandmother by the artist himself, as she happened to be his aunt.
Appraiser Nan Chisholm confirmed that the painting was an original, made in 1919 for the cover of the Collier’s Weekly magazine. She estimated that the painting was valued at around $500,000, which at the time was “tied for the second most valuable item ever appraised in the 15-year history.” Regardless of how much the painting is worth, the owner says that he will never sell it.
This painting is often called one of the “finest finds” on BBC’s version of Antiques Roadshow. The long-lost painting is by none other than Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, one of the most significant Victorian artists. The painting is of the artist’s friend, Leopold Löwenstam, and it was gifted by Alma-Tadema as a wedding present in 1883.
The painting was actually brought to the roadshow by Löwenstam’s great-grandson, who preferred to stay anonymous. Despite the painting’s hefty price tag, the owner has no intention of selling it. Alma-Tadema paintings are known to be worth a lot of money, especially after one of his paintings went for a whopping $36 million a few years back.
This woman brought in a rather humble-looking copy of Anne of Green Gables that she bought at a flea market for her young daughter. The owner of the book said that she spent less than five dollars, but little did she know that this was a first edition copy. Appraiser Francis Wahlgren says that since publishers weren’t sure how well the book was going to do, only very few were printed.
The vintage book appraiser says that the books are so rare that he has only seen three copies in his entire career! Given the scarcity and how well the book was preserved, Wahlgren estimated that the book was worth anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000.
Flemish artist Sir Anthony Van Dyck was the leading court painter in England during the 17th century. So, when one of his paintings showed up on the BBC’s version of Antiques Roadshow, everyone was very excited. The painting had been purchased by Father Jamie MacLeod for a mere $500. At the time, however, Father Jamie had no idea that the painting was an original.
But after a friend suggested that it may just be the real deal, the priest took it in to get valued. “The picture is of great importance as it provides a fascinating insight into Van Dyck’s working method and also constitutes a significant surviving document for the artist’s lost group portrait of The Magistrates of Brussels,” the show’s specialist said.
This woman was never really sure of what to make of the oil painting that hung in her house. But something in her gut told her to bring it down to the Antiques Roadshow when it came rolling through Orlando, Florida, in 2007. Appraiser Alasdair Nichol took one look at the painting and knew that this woman had something special in her hands.
The painting is an original Fern Isabel Coppedge and was made back in 1925. Based on how well kept the painting is, Nichol valued it between $120,000 and $180,000! This was a far cry from what the owner thought it was worth, leaving her speechless. Now that we know how much the painting is worth, we understand why!
This woman brought in a rare item that she found hidden in her basement. She had no idea what it was or where it came from, except that it had once belonged to her grandmother. But while this woman didn’t have a clue about the book, appraiser Ken Sanders knew exactly what it was the second he saw it. According to Sanders, the book was produced in 1844.
“This is the so-called Bellow Falls Hymnal of the LDS Church. It is one of the earliest hymnals that the church produced,” Sanders told the woman. The appraiser then told the woman to expect between $40,000 and $50,000 at auction!
Now that we’ve gone through some of our favorite Antiques Roadshow items let’s take a look at some of Shark Tank’s most memorable products!