Portland Vase Plaster Cast
Bought it in an auction about two months ago. I had no idea even what it was or who... you know, where it came from or anything else. I just had a gut feeling that it was old, so I took a chance. The woman that put it in the auction said it was her grandfather's. It was supposed to be Wedgwood. It was supposed to come from a museum back in the 1850s called Avon Hall in Virginia. But in my research I can't find an Avon Hall. I don't know anything about it.
Well, you have a model here of what is perhaps one of the most famous vases in history. We call it today the "Portland vase" because in the 1780s, it was acquired by the duchess of Portland in England. But it's much older than that. The Portland vase is actually a glass vase made in the Roman empire-- probably made about 2,000 years ago-- and it stands today in the British Museum in London. And it has a very celebrated history. It first came to light in what you might call modern history in the 17th century when it was owned by a series of notable Italians. And it was mostly known at that time as the "Barberini vase" after the family that owned it in the 17th century. And it changed hands in the late 18th century when there was a period of intense archaeological excavation in Italy and it's now owned by the British museum. Wedgwood comes into the story when they started making copies of it in 1790 and Josiah Wedgwood I made fabulous copies and they've been making them ever since. And, in fact, Wedgwood even today uses the Portland vase as its symbol. It's printed on the base of most Wedgwood product. So you'd think with all that history it's going to be a valuable object. But if you don't mind, tell me how much you paid for it at the auction.
Well, I'm going to have to disappoint you because what you've got is not a Wedgwood Portland vase, it's a copy of the Portland vase cast out of plaster of Paris, which is not a difficult thing to do. It may have been made last century, but the age is not really that important. I'm afraid $60 is about where the value lies, so...
I kind of figured that.
All right, curious object and great story but not a valuable item.
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.
Walt Disney | AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Coming to American Experience September 14 & 15 is the unprecedented look at the complex life and enduring legacy of one of America’s best-known storytellers – Walt Disney
Arthur & George
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) stars as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a three-part MASTERPIECE Mystery! adaptation of the novel by Julian Barnes. Airs Sundays, September 6-20