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The Most Valuable Items Antiques Roadshow



Antiques Roadshow is one of the most popular television series of all time, and it’s largely because it showcases ordinary people who’ve come into possession of incredibly valuable things. And the best part is, most of the time they don’t even know it! That’s because antiques often go unappreciated.
But the price surely appreciates, sometimes astronomically in comparison to what the owner was doing with it. Seeing people just as bewildered as the audience watching during appraisal is all the fun, so without further ado, we showcase the most ridiculous Antiques Roadshow hauls of all time.

Joseph Kleitsch Oil Painting

Originally, this very lovely painting was purchased for a modest $100. The owners simply thought it showed a nice technique, but they were in for a world of surprises when they discovered that it was from around 1920 and valued at $500,000! How’s that for a return on your investment?!

A High School Project

In 1973, Betsy Soule was a high school senior and an avid artist who specialized in face pottery. When her friend saw her creation on Antiques Roadshow being valued for tens of thousands of dollars, she immediately contacted Soule. The art appraiser — who gave it such value due to its distinct style — reappraised it for $3,000 to $5,000. Still not bad for a high school project! But it paled in comparison to the show’s most valuable item ever brought in.

Stirling Moss’ Car

This old automobile was once used by a farmer to haul his pigs off to market, so surely it couldn’t have been very valuable….right? Turns out the car was owned by legendary British race car driver Stirling Moss. It was indeed the very same Sunbeam Talbot 90 he used to win the Charles Ferro Trophy in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1967. As such, it was worth quite a bit of cash: $50,000 worth of cash!

Qianlong Jade Collection from Qing Dynasty

Anything that looks like this is either bound to be highly valuable or merely pawn shop junk. Fortunately for the owner, it was the former. Dated back to the 18th century (a little more modern than you would suspect), the appraiser’s sum was $710,000 to $1,070,000!

Alexander Calder Mobile

This may resemble a middle school project, but it was worth just a tad bit more than what it looks like. The owner had this in their possession for years since it was a family heirloom, but most heirlooms aren’t worth $400,000 to $600,000! The appraisers even speculated that the mobile could go for upwards of $1 million once Calder becomes trendy again!

Faberge Drinking Vessel

It may look like a fancy gravy boat, but this exquisite piece once belonged to the emperor of Russia in 1904. If it was constructed of silver, it would have been appraised for a modest-to-high sum. It was made of faberge, though, which drove its value through the roof to $600,000 to $700,000!

Lord Admiral Nelson Drawing

Historians thought that they knew everything there was to know about Lord Admiral Nelson, but in 2012 they were wowed by a never-before-seen drawing of the famous figure. It was sketched five years prior to his death in Trafalgar in 1805 and was soon-after placed in the common room of the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk. Antiques Roadshow historians were so amazed by the drawing that they valued it at $100,000.

Van Dyck Masterpiece

When Canon Jamie MacLeod purchased this exquisite piece for $400, he wasn’t sure if it was an actual painting from legendary artist Anthony van Dyck. Since it very easily could have been a fake, he decided to take it to the Antiques Roadshow to get it appraised. The painting didn’t quite end up being worth $400, though — it was worth $400,000!

Diego Rivera ‘El Albañil’ Oil Painting

You might be wondering “How could an oil painting of an angry shovel-wielding little Mexican man be worth all that much?” That’s exactly what the painting’s owner wondered as well. It was a seemingly meaningless piece of wall decor that had been hanging behind a door, of all places, in his family’s home, and he simply wondered what he had on his hands. Little did he know that he owned a Diego Rivera original, valued at $800,000 to $1 million! I’m sure he found a more appropriate spot for it after that!

Patek Philippe Pocket Watch

This pocket watch may look like something your great-grandad might have had in his attic, and that’s exactly where the owner found it. It’s very old — from around 1914 — and it’s a very expensive pocket watch from Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe. It was valued at $250,000 in 2004, but the owner decided to hang on to it to increase its value, and in 2016 it sold for a whopping $1.5 million!

Frederic Remington Portrait

No, this isn’t a painting of Remington the gun maker, but it was painted by an artist named Frederic Remington. The artist had painted the man who was the owner’s grandfather, and the painting even included a letter to the subject. The appraiser thought it valuable enough to sell for between $600,000 and $800,000 — that’s a pretty large inadvertent inheritance from his grandfather!

18th Century Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Cups

When an Oklahoma man purchased this set for a song in the ‘70s, he thought he had merely acquired some pottery that had some barely-significant historical value. When he brought it to be appraised in 2011, however, he couldn’t have been more shocked. Made from a rhinoceros’ horn, these 17th – 18th century tea cups broke the show’s record at the time at a value of $1 million to $1.5 million!

“Grotesque Face Jug”

This, um, unique piece was brought in by a man who purchased it for $300, thinking at the time that he had overpaid. When he learned on the show that it could potentially be worth between $30,000 and $50,000, he was floored. A world-renowned art appraiser dated it late 19th century or early 20th century. Both the owner and the appraiser were in for a world of shock when they found out what it really was, though….

Gold-Plated Leica Luxus II Camera

Used during the WWII era and into the ‘50s, this camera was originally estimated to be worth up to $800,000 in 2001 due to its historical value. It didn’t quite reach that much at auction in 2013, however, as it only (“only”) fetched $380,000. I guess auction-goers thought it was cool but not $800,000 cool.

Shakespeare Notebook

Historians believe that this tiny little notebook from the 17th century contains notes and plays from the legendary playwright himself, among his earliest works. Matthew Haley, the book and manuscript historian who studied it, deduced that it could fetch up to $30,000 at an auction.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema Victorian Portrait

Dated back to 1883, this portrait was a wedding gift from Sir Lawrence to a friend. That friend’s great-grandson ended up bringing it to the Antiques Roadshow to get it appraised, thinking it’d be worth at least a few thousand. The appraiser could barely contain his excitement for this find and declared it worth between $200,000 and $300,000.

Meaningless Junk, BIG Money

You no doubt have, at some point in your life, gone through some of your old junk and thought “Why am I keeping this?” before hauling it off to Goodwill or the dumpster. Most of the time those things are simple garbage….but occasionally you can find some pretty incredible treasures that seem worthless on the outside but have turned their owners an enormous profit!

The FA Cup Trophy

This English football (soccer for Americans) trophy was the most valued item at the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 at $1 million. There was just one slight hitch: fans of the show considered it a “cheap” move considering that the cup wasn’t some mysterious object dragged out of someone’s attic or basement for the first time in decades.

Navajo Ute First Phase Blanket

A seemingly ordinary woven blanket? Appearances can deceive! This is actually a Navajo blanket dating back to the 19th century, so it’s lasted well beyond its time. In 2001 when it was appraised, it was worth around $350,000 – $500,000 (a modest sum). In 2016, that original estimate was altered just slightly. Now this piece of Native American history is worth $750,000 – $1 million!

311-Year-Old Dollhouse

Imagine being a little girl and inheriting this antique toy, and knowing that your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, great-great-great-grandmother, and well beyond have all played with it. The dollhouse has been left unchanged since 1705, which has driven its value up to $150,000.

1870s Boston Baseball Archive

Baseball cards from the ‘70s are cool and all, but they’re hardly rare. Baseball cards from the 1870s, however, are another matter entirely! That’s an entire century in difference, which means an entire century longer that they’ve survived. The woman who brought them in might not have known much about baseball, but she knew that a previous offer she had received for $5,000 was a bit low, and she was right….about $995,000 too low!

Faberge Flower

This may look like some decoration you’d find in your grandmother’s house, but I doubt she ever gave you birthday money that could compare to what this was worth. When jewelry expert Geoffrey Munn viewed this piece, he instantly knew this was worth a massive sum. He estimated that it very well could reach $1.5 to $1.78 million at auction, making it the highest-appraised item in the show’s history!

Angel of the North Sculpture

This maquette may not be as large as the 66-foot-tall statue that resides in Gateshead, England, that it’s based on, but it still required five men just to move it. The mini-statue was owned by the Gateshead Council and brought to the Antiques Roadshow in 2008 just to see how much it was worth, for kicks. It ended up being appraised at $1 million, the most valuable item on the show at that time. But it isn’t the most valuable item ever seen on the show anymore….

Norman Rockwell’s “The Little Model” Oil Painting

It’s no surprise that a Norman Rockwell painting would fetch a high value, but even this Oregon man wasn’t prepared for the Roadshow’s appraisal. Dating back to 1919, this original painting from the famous artist was valued at $500,000! Rather than sell it, the man decided he’d rather keep it in the family (until some greedy descendant decides to cash in on that half-million!).

Charles II’s Silver

Silver may not exactly be the most eye-catching thing at the Antiques Roadshow, but this particular collection garnered more than a few curious gazes. That’s because it was owned by Charles II. The collection in its entirety contained chalices and even some silver coins. At $300,000, it was the most valuable item at the Roadshow at the time.

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