Acclaimed television show Antiques Roadshow appeals to such a broad audience because it gives anyone who has inherited something from a loved one, found a unique item in their attic, or fallen in love with a castaway object at a moving sale a chance to discover the true value of their treasure.
Participants gather across the United States and the United Kingdom to show off their wares and have items valued by experts in the field. The visual below illustrates the most valuable antiques ever uncovered at the Roadshow. Below the visual, our editors included a few additional items that brought in a high price tag, as well as links to video clips so you can watch the appraisals in action. Scroll through to learn more about each item, including a brief history and their valuation.
1. The Model of Antony Gormley’s “Angel of the North”
Appraisal: $1,565,000; sold at auction for $2,946,300
Location: Gateshead, United Kingdom
In 2008, Antiques Roadshow UK found the first object valued over £1 million ($1,274,900). The model of Gormley’s enormous sculpture stands 6 feet high and spans 17 feet across. It is owned by the Gateshead Council and was created by the sculptor in order to convince councillors of the gigantic 66 feet tall statue’s commission.
2. Patek Philippe Pocket Watch
Appraisal: Originally appraised at $250,000 in 2004; updated to $1,500,000 in 2016
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
The watch was handed down from grandfather, to father, to son originally made in 1914 for George Thompson, an American entrepreneur. The Patek Philippe watch ultimately sold at auction for $1,541,212. Watch the appraisal here.
3. Chinese Cups Made from Rhinoceros Horns
Appraisal: $1,000,000 – $1,500,000; two cups sold at auction for $329,000
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
A man broke the US record in July 2011 with a collection of Chinese rhinoceros horn carvings he began collecting in the seventies during travels abroad. The collection was created for ceremonial presentation with some pieces dating back to over 1,000 B.C. Watch the appraisal here.
4. Boston Red Stockings Baseball Archive
Location: New York, New York
This 1870s baseball archives includes cards, photographs, written notes, and signatures of the earliest known professional team with founding Hall of Famers. Harry Wright, George Wright and Albert Spalding went on to win the league over the next decade. If this goldmine has you inspired to start your own collection, check out sports memorabilia up for auction. Watch the appraisal here.
5. Gold-plated Leica Luxus II Camera
Appraisal: $780,000 – $1,252,000
Location: Wales, United Kingdom
This Leica Luxus was said to be one of the world’s rarest and perhaps the lone survivor of four original cameras. Plated in gold with a lizard-skin casing, the last owner had the camera since the end of World War II. It eventually sold for less than expected in a Hong Kong auction, bringing in $620,000.
6. Original Honus Wagner Baseball Card
Appraisal: $780,000 – $1,300,000
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Honus Wagner Baseball cards are said to be the most valuable because of their rarity. Printed between 1909 and 1911, Honus halted production for unknown reasons, but accusations have been made about contract disputes and Honus being anti-tobacco. This appraisal did not make it on television because it was discovered that the owner knew the value, making for much less compelling television. Read more about the appraisal here.
7. 1904 Diego Rivera’s “El Albañil” Oil Painting
Appraisal: $800,000 – $1,000,000
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
Purchased around the 1930s in Mexico, this piece was painted by Diego Rivera when he was in his teens. Rivera ultimately became one of the most influential and important Latin American painters. His signature can be seen in the lower right hand corner. The painting hung behind a door for decades in his parents’ home. Watch the appraisal here.
Credit: San Antonio Museum of Art
8. Navajo Ute First Phase Blanket
Appraisal: $750,000 – $1,000,000; sold for $1,800,000 at John Moran Auctioneers
Location: Tucson, Arizona
This Navajo Chief’s Blanket made in the 1840s was a gift from Kit Carson to his grandmother’s foster parents. Ute blankets mark the beginning of Navajo weaving. It’s made from handwoven wool so finely done that it could repel water. The blanket is extremely rare and important to US history. Watch the appraisal here.
9. 18th Century Qianlong Jade Collection from Qing Dynasty
Appraisal: $710,000 – $1,007,000
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
The owner’s father was stationed in China during World War II in the 1930s and 40s, and began a collection of jade that dates back to the Qing Dynasty between 1735-1796. The ornate detailing and imperial order mark meant the dragon bowl was made for the emperor himself. Watch the appraisal here.
10. Frederic Remington Portrait with Letter
Appraisal: $600,000 – $800,000
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
The portrait owner’s great-grandfather was a friend of Frederic Remington who painted a portrait of him in a series on military documentary. The painting is accompanied by a letter from the artist detailing his adventures with the painting’s subject. Remington became an iconic western painter. Watch the appraisal here.
11. 1907 Robert Henri Painting
Appraisal: $500,000 – $700,000
Location: San Diego, California
The owner’s father gave her the portrait of her grandmother from Yorkshire, England. The painting was commissioned by Robert Henri who went on to found the Ashcan School. Henri was an influential artist and teacher, who was important to the development of American art. Watch the appraisal here.
12. Portrait by Anthony van Dyck
Location: Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
The portrait was revealed to be a van Dyck sketch for the famous painting, “The Magistrates at Brussels.” The owner discovered the painting at an antiques shop. After a lengthy restoration process, it was verified by a leading expert. Read more on the discovery here.
13. Alexander Calder Mobile
Appraisal: $400,000 – $1,000,000
Location: Miami Beach, Florida
This mobile was given to the owner’s aunt by Alexander Calder after a cocktail party where she gave the artist a pillow she had made. Calder went on to create larger installations and was credited with inventing the mobile art form made of thin wire and oftentimes aluminum. Calder is best known for his use of primary colors, which can be seen in this piece. Watch the appraisal here.
Credit: Alexander Calder
14. Clyfford Still Oil Painting
Location: Palm Springs, California
The owner’s husband was an art student at Washington State University and was given this painting during his PhD studies at the university. Still is known, along with Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and others, as a founder of the Abstract Expressionist movement. This painting is an example of his work before he adapted a non-figurative style. Watch the appraisal here.
Credit: Clyfford Still
15. “Peanuts” Comic Strip
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
The owner began a collection of “Peanuts” comics for her son as he was a fan growing up. As he got older, he became interested in signed lithographs from Charles Schulz, which is how they happened upon early comics. The collection has several one-of-a-kind pieces from the 1950s. Watch the appraisal here.
16. Lawrence Alma-Tadema Portrait
Appraisal: $300,00 – $450,000
Location: Harrogate, United Kingdom
The portrait is of the owner’s grandfather Löwenstam, who was Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s engraver. Alma-Tadema painted the engraver at work with a version of Alma-Tadema’s painting in front of him. The gentle diffusion of light, copper detail, and the shadows illustrate why Alma-Tadema became one of the most significant artists of the Victorian period. Watch the appraisal here.