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Top 10 Most Surprising Discoveries on Antiques Roadshow

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Christopher Lozano
The craziest "Antiques Roadshow" discoveries of all time turned trash into treasure. For this list, we'll be looking at those strange and surprising items that turned out to be worth way more than expected. Our countdown includes little model, gold Leica, Calder mobile, and more!
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Top 10 Craziest Anqiues Roadshow Discoveries of All Time


Ever wondered how much your VHS tapes or Gameboys are going to be worth in a hundred years? Welcome to UKMojo and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Antiques Roadshow Discoveries of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those strange and surprising items that turned out to be worth way more than expected.

#10: Little Model


Appearing on the cover of Collier’s in 1919, “The Little Model” is a painting by one of America’s greatest painters, Norman Rockwell. It depicts a little girl dressed in red who appears to be a housekeep. The painting was given to Rockwell’s aunt and was passed down until it came into the possession of the current owner. It also came with an old note in which the estimated value was $10,000 to $15,000. On the show, Nan Chisholm gave it a current estimated value of $500,000.

#9: Remington Portrait


Another of the American West’s greatest artists, Frederic Remington was a painter, illustrator, sculptor, and writer. He’s best known for his depictions of cowboys, First Nations peoples, and the Army. This painting is a portrait of the owner’s great-grandfather as part of a series on the military. Accompanying the painting was a letter describing the subject’s and artist’s relationship, as well as their adventures. The owner had previously received an appraisal on the painting, estimating its worth at around $7,500. At the time of the show it was valued for up to $600,000 to $800,000.

#8: Anthony van Dyck Painting


This famous Flemish painter lived from 1599 to 1641. He’s known as a baroque artist and famous for his portraits of Charles I of England. The style of beards that men wore at the time eventually became known as the Van Dyck thanks to the artist. The owner of the painting was a priest who bought it at an antiques shop for £400. He thought it was a fake until he brought it in for appraisal, where it turns out to be both the genuine work and worth over £400,000.

#7: Calder Mobile


A mobile is a type of sculpture that’s built and designed to take advantage of balance and equilibrium. They’re usually free-standing structures that either float or hang, and the best example of a mobile is the rotating toy people hang above a baby’s crib to calm them. The originator of the mobile as a form of art was American sculptor Alexander Calder, and so it’s no great surprise that the piece brought in to “Antiques Roadshow” is valued at over $1 million dollars.

#6: Jade Collections


Imagine finding out that those strange looking green things in your closet were worth over $1 million dollars. That’s what happened to Jinx Taylor when she took her father’s jade collection to be evaluated by the people at “Antiques Roadshow”. Her father had acquired the items in China while serving in the U.S. army during the 1930s and ‘40s. As it happened, these valuable pieces are from the 18th century during the Qianlong dynasty. Here’s hoping she wasn’t using them to eat cereal out of.

#5: El Albanil


Meaning the “the laborer” in Spanish, this was one of Diego Rivera’s earliest paintings. The style of signature on it means that it’s from Rivera’s days in school. For many years the picture was thought to be lost until it showed up on an episode of “Antiques Roadshow”. Rue Ferguson came into possession of the painting which had been hanging behind the door at his great-grandparents’ house. It’s thought to be the earliest Rivera painting in the United States and is valued at up to $1 million dollars.

#4: Gold Leica


Before Leica’s became popularized, cameras were larger and somewhat more cumbersome to use. This all changed with rise of 35mm film and rangefinder cameras like the Leica II. A German manufacturer, Leica produced photographic equipment from before World War II to today. This gold-plated camera is one of only four made and it’s thought to be the last to survive. Despite its rarity the camera was well-used by the original owner and is estimated to be worth up to $1.2 million dollars.

#3: Angel of the North Maquette


This maquette was so heavy that it took 5 people to carry it onto the showroom floor. Though massive, it’s only a fraction of the size that the full statue would be. The completed statue ended up being over 66 feet tall with a wingspan of 177 feet. This concept piece was brought in and valued at over £1 million, which is more than the cost of the actual landmark. Although it’s smaller than the completed piece, the maquette has a unique beauty and presence to it.

#2: Rhinoceros Cups


These cups made from rhinoceros horns were originally made for ceremonial and libation purposes. The owner came into possession of them in the 1970s as an avid collector of the art form. They were crafted sometime between the 17th and 18th century and are considered fine pieces of art. The craftsmanship and detail that went into the flower and dragon designs is a sight to behold. Although the owner paid approximately $5,000 for the pieces, they’re worth up to $1.5 million dollars for the set.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Navajo Blanket

Kleitsch Painting

Clyfford Still Painting

#1: Honus Wagner Baseball Card


This card is the holy grail of card collecting and is valued at $2.8 million dollars, a record for the show. The card depicts a baseball player from the Pittsburgh Pirates who was widely considered to be the greatest player of all time. In a dispute over money or morality, Wagner stopped the American Tobacco Company from continuing to make his card. This lead to a small production run of only 50 to 200 cards while other cards were printed in the tens of thousands. It’s first listing price was $50, so you could say it’s gone up in value a bit.
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