Antiques Roadshow: Is that junk really worth that much? Who would buy it?

Watching Antiques Roadshow, UK, Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon.

I am not English and perhaps have bad taste.

So, to me, most of it seems junk. ALl it seems trashy garage sale (although the best at the garage sale). But they get valuations of $$$$$MONEYMONEYMONEY!

Example: An ugly vase with a creepy face etched in to the top. 500 pound sterling? Looks like 15 pounds.

Another was some 18th Minature portraits, the best I saw during the show. But I would rate them as a few thousand dollars each, not the 20,000 pounds some were rated for. They are just minatures!

Some flatware was sterling silver, but I never heard of the maker nor did the art deco design strike me as having any beauty. But it was MASSIVE valuationed! (The sterling silver I get is $$$$, but not much else).

There were some ugly bead dresses valued at 1000 pounds each.

SO is this stuff really worth that much? Are there hordes of wealthy people looking to go to art auctions and buy art deco silverware for enormous amounts of money?

How do you really sell some of this stuff?

I’ve long thought that sometimes after the camera goes off that the person with the Hideous Thing From Aunt Greta offers to sell that thing to the appraiser on the spot for about 30% less than they just quoted.

But keep in mind that lots of times they’re giving insurance values, which are usually a bit higher than the actual value. When they say “I’d have this insured for $5000” they mean “this is probably worth about half that, plus the time and effort to find another one” but it makes for better numbers on TV.

But I agree with you, more than most of the stuff that comes up on the show I wouldn’t have in my house even if the thing routinely shot out gold coins. Maybe once or twice an episode I’ll see something that I think is pretty cool, but still wouldn’t want. Maybe I have low tastes, but I don’t think so.

I love the US Antiques Roadshow & have seen the UK original.

The price estimates are made by real-life antique dealers who do know what things are worth. That’s their job.

Collectors buy the stuff. On the US show, we’re occasionally told a certain item might have been worth more a few years back, because of the economic downturn or just because tastes change. Other items go up in value; Chinese antiques sold to Europeans or Americans long ago are being bought by Chinese who have come into money.

They do tend to distinguish between “You should insure this for…” and “At auction this would likely go for…” because as noted those are two different numbers. But never underestimate what some people will pay for something rare that they really, really want.

Also, don’t forget that for every valuable item they show on television, the experts see hundreds (if not thousands) that are worthless crap. “You paid 50p at a garage sale for this? Yeah, sounds about right.”

Actually that’s one of my favorite parts, over the end credits where they have the people with the worthless garbage in a quick montage “This is my porcelain doll my mom bought in the 1940’s, but apparently it was made in Taiwan in 1987 and it’s worth $2!”

In antiques, as in anything else, the price is what someone is willing to pay for it. Logic doesn’t always come into it. Sometimes these horrible vases are valuable simply because of the makers name. There is a strong tendancy among hobbyists to collect complete sets of things, and they are willing to to spend a lot of time and money to do so. It’s all about supply and demand. Some items had extremely limited production runs, and attrition takes it’s toll. If there are more collectors than there are items available, the price will rapidly inflate. In auctions, the price is set by the most optimistic buyer, and when buying antiques many of the buyers are indulging a hobby rather than conducting business.

Aesthetics is a secondary consideration when determining the value of antiques. A beautifully made but common item can’t command the same price, as people will find alternative sellers.

Since this is about a television program, I’m moving it to Cafe Society, from IMHO.

Much of what everyone’s saying is correct. You can read more about the appraisals at their website.

I have been to an Antiques Roadshow event, and it’s an absolute zoo. An orderly zoo, but a zoo. WGBH has it down to a science. My mother and I brought my father’s English lead toy soldiers to be appraised, so I was in the toy expert’s station. I couldn’t believe the junk some people showed up with — in particular a woman with some marbles. Marbles. She had a couple pretty ones, but most were the cheap clay ones. A few cents each. The appraiser looked rather disgusted that anyone would think they’d be worth something!

That said, the amount of stuff people bring is incredible. And they come from such long distances! I talked to people from New York state, Michigan and out west, Texas I think. (This event was in Louisville, Ky.) It’s a merry time; everyone is eager to discuss the things they brought and the stories behind them. For a nosy gabber like me, it was a fun time!

I’ve seen only the US version of the show. I’ve never been into generalized antiques, but I have bought and sold collectible knives, guns, and militaria. Book values, appraised values, etc. are based on the idea that you can find somebody who wants it that badly; almost always another collector. There is no guarantee that you will accomplish that quickly or easily. Something very truly rare, like one of the few remaining original Walker Colts, can be liquidated for its “true” value relatively easily. Grandpa’s old .38 revolver he used to run off hobos back during The Great Depression? There’re thousands more like it. What you get for it is going to depend heavily on finding a collector who wants it and what the economic conditions are at the moment. Things go in and out of fashion with collectors, so that will influence demand as well.

Occasionally the appraisers will evaluate a fake, or something that just isn’t worth much, as an object lesson.

And sometimes they feature items that are really neat, even though they aren’t extremely valuable. Yes, they are dealers who must know about market values to stay in business. But most of them originally got into antiques/collectibles because of their enthusiasm for great old stuff…

I have not seen one on the show, but when I was a kid, I had an extremely rare pedal car. (of course, I did not know it at the time) I am sure if it was still around, I could get $50,000 for it, easy.

(yes, it grieves me I did not take better care of it)

This is the half table I remember seeing on the show. It was appraised at between $200,000 and $300,000, and I could not believe it. Then it was auctioned for $541,500. Still can’t believe it.

I’d vote “it depends”.

I buy antiques that I can afford and like. A few items are investments. But, I only buy stuff I like.

Buying an ugly antique that I hate, as an investment is a bad move IMHO.

The Keno brothers are classic for this one with antique furniture, loving to point out how you’re *so close *to having something worth 11 jillion dollars, but that it was refinshed “at some point” using clown urine and a clumsy child with a dremel tool has replaced the legs at some point in time effectively making it’s value somewhere between a Happy Meal and kindling.

You can usually tell when they choose that approach over a softer, kinder one, and it’s when the person bringing in the object is themselves an antique dealer and they’re delighting in taking the piss out of them for not catching these things themselves.

HAR! But isn’t it true that antique furniture used to be worth more refinished than deteriorated? Shame on those old-timey primitives, following the demands of their own market rather than the ultimate value - to us today, the smartest people evar!

Apparently the OP has never taken an economics course. It’s all about supply and demand (and fashion). The collectible/antique market fluctuates, with items coming into fashion and fading, just like anything else. Remember “Beanie Babies”? They were the rage for awhile and people paid huge sums for some of them. Now they may as well line cat boxes with them. As others have pointed out, an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. It could be the last of its kind, but if nobody wants it, it’s worth zip. Or it can be “an ugly vase with a creepy face” that just happens to fit in with today’s decors, and bidders will kill each other to acquire it.

Really? You can’t believe a table over 200 years old that shows that much obvious craftsmanship (imagine the skill it took to do those fine, thin satinwood strings in 1790), and whose maker had a top-notch reputation among the wealthy even then brought in a lot of money?

And fine early American furniture is worth more than comparable English stuff. Because it was much more rare here on the edge of the wilderness. (Hey, I’ve been watching the show for years.)

I knew some people who ran the Houston Heritage Society. They have 9 “historic” homes in their park downtown, moved from all over the area. Equipped with period furniture, of course. They rather regretted the popularity of Antiques Roadshow, since it made people less willing to donate “old family stuff.”

I don’t know if it was worth more back then if it was, but it wouldn’t surprise me. My mom used to collect antique furniture, nothing major; a hall tree and a few chairs and she refinished all of them so that they didn’t look so beat up. That adds a bit to the current price since it’s rare that a piece didn’t get a nice coat of green paint to spruce it up back in the day.

My favorite evaluation occurred several years ago on the American show. An elderly man brought in his collection of three antique guns for which he had paid a lot of money. One of them had been recovered from the Little Big Horn battlefield! I forget the history of the other two, but each was as historically important as the first. The appraiser pointed out an inscription on the trigger guard of each: Made In Japan. It was obvious as he walked away that the elderly man rejected the appraiser’s discovery and was still convinced he had genuine antiques.