Pre-Columbian Style Mask
Appraised Value: $100 - $200 (1997)
$100 - $200 (2011)
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:07)
Antiques Appraiser and Consultant
APPRAISER: John, when I saw you standing in line, I could tell the way you were embracing this piece that it was sort of special. Can you tell me the story behind it?
GUEST: My wife bought it for me for Christmas.
APPRAISER: How long ago was that?
GUEST: About ten or 12 years ago.
APPRAISER: Really? Now, did she have any information about it...
GUEST: Well, no, she knew I wanted it. I was trying to buy it from a fellow, and he got it down in Mexico somewhere.
APPRAISER: And do you know when he collected it?
GUEST: About 1939 or something like that.
APPRAISER: Well, what you probably didn't know is these stone masks were placed over the deceased's face in tombs throughout the pre-Columbian world, particularly in Mexico, and some of these masks have gone as high as a million dollars...
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: Both privately and at auction, they've gone for $450,000.
GUEST: Oh, my gosh.
APPRAISER: Now, what we look for in the masks is whether the features are exaggerated. We look at how the engraving is handled, how the mouth is carved, and the nose and the eyes. We look at the surface. And all of these things help us determine whether the piece is authentic. What do you think this piece is worth?
GUEST: I have no idea... really.
APPRAISER: Well, this is an object that was actually made for sale. It's a reproduction.
GUEST: Is it?
APPRAISER: But it's a piece that is very interesting.
GUEST: Does it have any value?
APPRAISER: Yes, sir, it does. A piece like this is going to be worth between $100 and $200.
APPRAISER: So, I'm sorry you didn't hit the big home run, but it's still a piece-- because your wife gave it to you and it's Christmas, you can enjoy it...
GUEST: She didn't pay that much for it.
APPRAISER: Well, I'm glad she didn't.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.