French Porcelain Mantel Vases, ca. 1880

Value (2011) | $600 Retail$900 Retail

I bought them at the local flea market where I live. It's on the west side of El Paso. I like to collect pottery and art glass, mostly.

How did you start going? Did your parents take you?

Actually, I call it my dad's flea market because he was the first person to start selling there.

Oh, no kidding? Well, there's a lot of fun to be had in going to flea markets and yard sales. And my advice, if you like to go to fleas and you like to go to yard sales, is be careful what you buy. Be discriminating, buy the good things.


And these are good things. You know what they are?

Pottery? Porcelain?

Yeah, well, you're right the second time. They're porcelain, there's a difference. Porcelain, you can see through it, it's kind of white and it's almost like glass. Pottery is thicker and heavier, typically. They're French porcelain, and they've got good age to them. They're probably made about 1880, something like that.

Oh, okay.

And they're nice quality. They're not the highest, the best quality, but they're really very nice. These panels on the front are hand-painted. A lot of these are not-- they're just printed on-- and you can see, if you look carefully. And they're very well done. Painted with these scenes of French people in the countryside, there's a hunter there and his girlfriend that he's wooing, and there's another couple here. If I turn one 'round, you'll see the back's painted as well. Very prettily painted with wildflowers on this nice, sort of dusty pink background. I looked at them and there's no real damage or repair on them that I can see, and this is all good things. How much did you pay for them at the flea market?

I paid $50 for both of them.

$50 for both of them?

Yeah, I actually asked the lady to hold one for me because I only had $25, and I came back after two weeks. She kept the other one for me.

I'm glad you kept them together, because they've been a pair for a very long time, these two, and it would be a shame to split them up. I think today, if they were in a good antique shop, you'd see a price on these of at least $600 or maybe as much as $900.


And that price is for the pair. You made a great buy.

I did, for $50.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
Dallas, TX
Appraised value (2011)
$600 Retail$900 Retail
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
19th Century

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.