The unique stories people tell about their favorite heirlooms and yard-sale bargains are one of the best parts of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, and "Your Stories" gives you the chance to share your own antiquing adventure with the world. Each week we'll post a new treasure-hunting tale or lesson learned, e-mailed to us by fans like you!
Saved from the Smash
In the early 1970s, my husband was a doctor in the Indian Health Service, a branch of the U.S. Public Health Service, stationed on the Navaho reservation in New Mexico. We became friendly with Larry, an Acoma Indian who was an x-ray technician at the hospital. One night after dinner in his apartment, Larry told us that his mother was cleaning house back home, smashing her Acoma pots on the floor and sweeping them out. Taken aback, I joked, "Tell her to give them to me!" Some months later, my husband mentioned to Larry that we would be spending Christmas week in Albuquerque. Larry was going home to nearby Acoma Pueblo for the holiday, and invited us to come and see the traditional Christmas dances. We went and after watching the dancers in the church, accompanied Larry to his mother's house for lunch. Sitting in the living room, we were talking and eating when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Larry's mother emerge from the kitchen with something in her hands. She made a beeline for me, proffering a large Acoma vase with a traditional white, ochre and black design, which she insisted I accept. I was speechless and, of course, delighted. My Acoma pot has become a cherished possession. I don't know its age and, as they say on the Roadshow, have never had it appraised and have no idea of its value. Someday, I promise myself, I will find out more.
3.5.2012 | Worth the Trip
2.27.2012 | Big Kid on the Block
2.20.2012 | One Good Deed
2.13.2012 | That Hunter Won't Hunt
2.6.2012 | Father of Invention
1.30.2012 | Cracking Open a Chest of Secrets
1.23.2012 | Historical Treasures
1.16.2012 | D'Orbigny Originals
1.9.2012 | Not Just the Ticket...
1.2.2012 | Indestructible Collectibles
12.19.11 | An Accidental Collection
12.12.11 | For Love of the Frame
12.5.11 | Patience Pays Off
11.28.11 | Cat and Mouse Game
11.21.11 | Seeing Antiques in a Whole New Way
11.14.11 | History Locked in a Locket
11.7.11 | Moving Antiques
10.31.11 | Hidden Treasure
10.24.11 | Good Will
10.17.11 | The "Original" House that Jack Built?
10.7.11 | An Impression of Degas
10.3.11 | All Dolled Up
9.26.11 | A Vital Violin
9.26.11 | An Article of History
9.12.11 | Design Is In the Details
9.5.11 | A Small Touch-Up
8.29.11 | Home With a History
8.22.11 | A Poetic Piece
8.15.11 | A Young Girl and her Bird
8.8.11 | Delightful Dishes
8.1.11 | A Philadelphia Story
7.25.11 | Connected through Collectibles
7.18.11 | Judging a Painting By Its Cover
7.11.11 | Under a Rock
7.4.11 | Stories of Adventure
6.27.11 | Musical Roots
6.20.11 | Cornered the Market
6.13.11 | Through the Eyes of a Child
6.6.11 | A Spoonful
5.23.11 | Two-of-a-Kind
5.16.11 | Costumed as Costume Jewelry
5.9.11 | Architectural Antiques
5.2.11 | Buy What You Love
4.25.11 | Newsworthy Newspaper
4.15.11 | Curb-side Find
4.11.11 | String Lineage
4.4.11 | Instrument of History
3.28.11 | Secret Signature
3.21.11 | Hunting for Family Heirlooms
3.14.11 | Family Photo with a Famous Cameo
3.7.11 | Thrift Shop Payoff
2.28.11 | A Ride to Remember
2.18.11 | Long-Lost Letter
2.14.11 | Folsom Prison Ship
2.7.11 | Saving Charleston
1.31.11 | Christmas Ornament
1.24.11 | Digging for Treasure
1.14.11 | Little Book Nobody Wanted
1.10.11 | Civil War Cup
12.27.10 | Refurbished Table
12.20.10 | Grandma's Table
12.13.10 | Presidential Find
12.6.10 | A Good Deed Rewarded
11.29.10 | German "Log Box"
11.22.10 | Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery
11.15.10 | Kid's Cup
11.8.10 | Gorges Book
11.1.10 | Willow Ware
10.25.10 | Dish Discovery
10.18.10 | One-of-a-Kind Knife
10.8.10 | The Fork and the Spoon
10.4.10 | Family Firearm
9.27.10 | Thrift Store Painting
9.20.10 | One Rainy Night
9.13.10 | A Watercolor Wonder
8.30.10 | You Never Know...
8.23.10 | Stone Pitcher
8.16.10 | Buried Bracelet
8.9.10 | An Heirloom on the Table
8.2.10 | Antique Swords
7.26.10 | Hidden Pistol
7.19.10 | This Ring's a Classic
7.12.10 | An Antique That's Fit to Print
7.2.10 | Playful Prints
6.28.10 | Gifts from Grandmother
6.21.10 | Rocking Chair
6.14.10 | Mother's Tea Set
6.7.10 | Jewelry Box
5.28.10 | Class Picture
5.24.10 | Tale of Two Tins
5.17.10 | Carved Bowl and Lid
5.10.10 | A Grand Find
5.3.10 | Charles Clewell Vase
4.26.10 | A. Sulka and Company Robe
4.16.10 | Maxfield Parrish Print
4.12.10 | How Sweet It Is
4.5.10 | All for 89 Cents
3.29.10 | A True Friend
3.22.10 | Beachcombing Discovery
3.15.10 | World's Fair Tapestry
3.8.10 | Thai Silver
3.1.10 | Oyster Art
2.22.10 | Grandpa's Pocket Watch
2.15.10 | Folks Go Gaga for This Tapestry
2.8.10 | Dante Chair
2.1.10 | Napoleon Lamp
1.25.10 | Original Robert Wood?
1.15.10 | He Sends His Congratulations
1.11.10 | Prayer Rug
1.04.10 | American Jewelry
12.23.09 | Stradivarius Mystery
12.21.09 | The Heirloom That Wasn't
12.14.09 | An Unusual Jewel
12.07.09 | Damaged Dresser
11.30.09 | 19th-Century Story
11.23.09 | Family Scrapbooks
11.16.09 | Half-Price Painting
11.09.09 | Metal-Detecting Discovery
11.02.09 | Unknown Utrillo
10.26.09 | Home Is Where the Treasure Is
10.19.09 | Family Diaries
10.09.09 | Priceless Painting
10.05.09 | Soulful Violin
09.28.09 | Civil War Quilt
09.21.09 | Homecoming
09.14.09 | Brilliant Brooch
09.4.09 | Folk Art Find
08.17.09 | Saved from Demolition
08.10.09 | Gray Pay Station Telephone
08.03.09 | Kennedy Necktie
07.27.09 | Tea for Two
07.20.09 | Signed by The Master of Suspense
07.13.09 | A Surprise from Dad's Past
07.06.09 | The One-Dollar Victrola
06.29.09 | Royal Bayreuth Vase
06.22.09 | Berbice Chair
06.15.09 | Mysterious Rock
06.08.09 | If Antiques Could Talk
06.01.09 | Just Say No
05.22.09 | Fan-Mail Writer
05.18.09 | I'll Take It
05.11.09 | A Friend from the Past
05.04.09 | Tripping over Treasure
04.27.09 | Diary of War
04.17.09 | Antique Love Seat
04.13.09 | Letter from a Former First Lady
04.06.09 | Harvesting History
03.30.09 | A Souvenir from a Watchman's Rounds
03.23.09 | Searching for an Answer
03.16.09 | A Gift from Iceland
03.13.09 | Ring of Memories
03.02.09 | An Unexpected Heirloom
02.16.09 | The Past Resurfaced
02.09.09 | Attic Treasure
12.29.08 | A Doll in Times of Sacrifice
12.22.08 | Folk Art Family History
12.15.08 | Bottom of the Box
12.08.08 | Ivy Ceramic Basket
12.01.08 | Symbolic Medallion
11.24.08 | A Rare Find for a Card Collector
11.17.08 | On The Hunt
11.07.08 | Hoosier Cabinet
10.31.08 | Hellier Heaven
10.27.08 | Right Under My Nose
10.20.08 | Sweet Dolls
10.10.08 | Abe Lincoln's "Bed Quilt"
10.06.08 | Antique Billiards Table
09.29.08 | Amelia Earhart Find
09.19.08 | Jessie Arms Botke Painting
09.15.08 | That Does Compute
09.08.08 | Alaskan Moose Hide
08.29.08 | A Complete Collection
08.25.08 | Historical Diaries
08.18.08 | Wedding Gift Inkwells
08.11.08 | W.T. Richards Watercolor
08.04.08 | A Pleasant Surprise
07.28.08 | Winnie The Pooh Cells
07.21.08 | Watch For A Bargain
07.14.08 | The Hunter and the Bear
07.07.08 | Roadshow Riches
06.30.08 | Kutani Urns
06.23.08 | Thrift Store Find
06.16.08 | Graduate School Cider Mug
06.09.08 | Limbert Arts and Crafts China Cabinet
06.02.08 | It All Comes Out in the Wash
05.23.08 | Let There Be Light
05.19.08 | Civil War Treasure
05.12.08 | Sitting Pretty
05.05.08 | Carousel Chandeliers
04.28.08 | Kindness Returned with St. Nicholas
04.18.08 | Hitching with Hadrian
04.14.08 | Hopeful China
04.07.08 | Why High School Pays
03.31.08 | Rediscovered Beauty
03.21.08 | George Washington Etching
03.17.08 | What's In The Box
03.10.08 | Perseverance Pays Off
03.03.08 | Follow Your Instincts
02.25.08 | Family "Flippie" Mug
02.15.08 | Chessie Cat Lithograph
02.11.08 | 1932 Babe Ruth Baseball
01.28.08 | An Important Shelf Liner
12.28.07 | A Real Find
12.21.07 | The Petty Family Archive
12.17.07 | Humbled by a Humble Sign
12.10.07 | Who Knows Nutting?
12.03.07 | Grandma's Four Golden Rules
11.26.07 | The Lady in the Mink Coat
11.19.07 | A Quilt and a Western for a Kind Gesture
11.12.07 | R. Tourte Watercolors
11.05.07 | The Holy Grail of Movie Posters
10.29.07 | Souvenir of a Lifetime
10.22.07 | Land Survey Equipment?
10.15.07 | Hidden Lithographs
10.05.07 | First Place Oars
10.01.07 | A Wave From Heaven
09.24.07 | An Austrian Hutch
09.17.07 | Bidding on the Small Stuff
09.10.07 | Time to Dust the Toys
08.31.07 | A Presidential Discovery
08.27.07 | Original Maija Painting
08.20.07 | Buy What You Like
08.13.07 | 1885 Crazy Quilt
Worth the Trip
One Sunday afternoon, I went to look through a pile of junk a friend told me about along a secondary road in West Virginia. Before I stopped my truck, I saw what I wanted. The kids said I was crazy. There was a small version of a washstand sort-of-thing. It had had a mirror, three drawers (one needed fixing), and a door (which needed to be put back on). I loaded it in my truck and took it to my friend to repair. He wire-brushed it, fixed everything, took it to Springfield, Ohio and sold it for $125.00 to a woman from California. I think it was worth the trip.
St. Mary’s, WV
Big Kid on the Block
Every once in a while people get "lucky" and find what they consider to be "gems," and this is my story. If you've ever wondered whether or not there's any truth to the saying "One man's junk is another mans treasure," let me assure you, there is. This is what happened to me.
One night, while heading home from a night out, I was wandering down the road (it happened to be trash night), when I passed a second-hand store and noticed the pile seemed to be unusually large. When I stopped to take a closer look at the pile, I spotted it — an original "Full Size" Radio-Flyer wagon. It was in good condition — not a spot of rust on it anywhere — and the only real problem was that the two front wheels were missing. Other than that, though, I was pleasantly surprised to see there were absolutely no dings or dents in it at all. Now I realize that monetarily speaking, I haven't found an item that's worth a huge amount of money, but that's not why I grabbed it in the first place. To me, it's the gem I'd been looking for, for years. It was the one gift I'd always wanted as a child, but never gotten — now I feel like the big kid on the block.
One Good Deed
In 1972, while I was in the service station business in Pennsylvania, a customer came in and needed gas, but he had no money. He said that if I would give him a couple of dollars worth of gas (at that time gas was 39 cents a gallon), he would give me a hand corn planter. I knew he needed the gas, so I filled his tank up, and a few days later he brought me an item that looked like a corn planter, but it only had one handle. I accepted it, and about a month later he came in with an item that he said went with it. This item looked like the bottom of a sweeper. I took this piece home and put in on, what I found out, was actually a vacuum cleaner, made in Warsaw, Indiana. I contacted the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, and they wrote back and informed me that the company that made the vacuum went out of business in the late 1890s. Later, my wife was watching a history show on T.V. about the Wright Brothers Museum. They showed a hand-operated vacuum cleaner and said, "This cleaner is the only one of its kind that is know to still exist." Guess what, my sweeper is identical to the one that they showed. What it's worth, I don't know, but I do know that when you have a chance to help someone out you never know how God will repay you.
That Hunter Won't Hunt
My grandfather lived next door to a well-known artist in Tulsa, OK — Mr. Frank von der Lancken. In the late 1930s, Mr. von der Lancken asked Grandpa to sit for a portrait that he titled, "The Hunter." Grandpa was a rabbit hunter and had a "string" of Beagles. The artist painted Gramps's hunting jacket with a pocket hanging open, and the plan was to have a rabbit hanging out of the pocket. However, my Grandfather and the artist never got together when Grampa had shot a rabbit, therefore the painting is still missing the rabbit. I now own the painting and treasure it.
Father of Invention
My grandfather was an inventor who held the most patents next to Edison. My mother gave me his original journal many years ago. I love that journal. My grandpa started it in the early 1900s, and it has drawings and pictures of his inventions, his laboratory, and even a blueprint. He invented the first speedometer, player piano, automatic gas gauge, and many other fantastic items. I moved to Mexico and took that journal with me. I had to come back to the U.S. due to a death, and I stayed in the U.S. for two years. When I returned to my home in Mexico and opened the door, everything I owned was gone. The only thing I wanted out of that house was his journal. I went upstairs from the outside and the door was open. You won't believe what was sitting on the window ledge ― my grandfather's journal. The rats had tasted it but didn't do too much damage. I could not believe it! I sat and read that journal, page by page, and it is fascinating. Now I have to figure out what to do with this priceless book. His name was Eugene T. Turney.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Cracking Open a Chest of Secrets
When my father was a student in history, he studied for a year in Paris. At the famous flea market there, he bought a beautiful painted iron trunk. He took it to Holland and during World War II he tried to open it but did not succeed. Three years ago, both my parents passed away, and I had to come back to Holland after 12 years working and living in Greece. I got very ill and had to sell the trunk, and it turned out to be a little treasure. It is a money trunk from Nuremberg, Germany and dates back to 1750. I do not think my father knew that. It is a beautiful, dark green, painted iron trunk covered with little red and white painted roses. It is about 50 cm high and in perfect state. I live in a small house now; I am 63 years old; and I hope somebody can open this trunk to look inside. It has always been the secret of the family. Everyone, including my grandchildren, has tried to open that trunk, but nobody has been able to. Now a professional is trying, and everybody is holding his breath. What will be inside? The story will continue!
After my dad passed away I had to clean out his house in Spickard, MO. In one of his closets, I found a black leather folder containing approximately 125 civil war letters written from John Sanders to his wife Ritty Anne Sanders. They tell his whole story during the civil war — both good and bad. In them, he tells where they are going and gives the dates as well as what they have done. They are very interesting, sometimes gruesome. I don't know what, if anything, I will ever do with them, but they are a true treasure for me anyway.
Walnut Grove, MO
I go to used-book dealers to find old books on natural history. Going to Witlocks in New Haven, CT, I made my usual request and was told there weren't any. I looked around, found a few sets, and was then told something had just come in. I was amazed when I saw that three volumes of a 16-volume set published in 1849 had over 300 hand-colored engravings by D'Orbigny, priced at $175, with a sale of 25% off. The books turned out to be quite rare and worth over $10,000. I can sell the individual prints at from$65-$95 each but did not have the heart to take the books apart for their prints and instead made beautiful computer prints. The set is supposed to be one of the most beautiful of all natural history books.
Not Just the Ticket...
On a Braniff airlines flight from Dallas to Tulsa, on April 18, 1956, my mother sat next to a young man whom she described as well-mannered, shy, with brown hair and the sweetest smile she had ever seen. She was the only one on the airplane who recognized him as Elvis Presley. Being the wife of a musician, she conversed with him during the flight. Upon arrival in Tulsa, he carried her luggage from the plane and signed the orange jacket cover of her Braniff ticket, "Thanks, Elvis Presley." My mother was a beautiful young woman who, no doubt, had his attention! He appreciated her attention and the autograph was one of her most prized possessions. She wrote on an envelope containing the autograph to take care of it as it was very rare.
My family was burned out of their downtown home on the first day of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire disaster. They packed steamer trunks with essentials and dragged them through the city to safety. They never expected to return a week later to find that their china had survived, though they lost all else! As the building disintegrated, the china hutch had actually fallen two stories to the basement. Then the building caved in and burned on top of the hutch, burning the hutch as well. The only pieces lost were two saucers. Today, the collection includes about 60 pieces: the china settings, serving dishes, and several other vases and odd pieces of value to the family. All are scorched and the finish is bubbled, most are slightly warped and some are cracked, but we have kept all in tact and well preserved.
An Accidental Collection
My husband Neil and I, then engaged and decorating our first home together, went to a secondhand store in Akron, Ohio, while there visiting my parents. When we first walked in the door and rounded the corner, we were stunned to see two beautiful glass enamel pictures. Both of them depicted women with birds and flowers. We had to have them. We were shocked to see that they were only $30 apiece and even more shocked when we talked the store owner into selling both of them to us for $30. An information sheet on the artist, Irene Awret, was affixed to the back of one frame. We learned that she was a holocaust survivor who visually documented life in the Nazi's concentration camps. These particular pieces, made in Israel in the 1970s, meant to symbolize and promote peace. I took them to be appraised and was told they were worth between $2,000 and $3,000 each. I feel so lucky to have found them, and we love them so much, we'll never part with them. Incidentally, this began a rather accidental, but deeply loved, collection of Jewish artwork a few months later. My husband bought a Marc Chagall lithograph (stamped, but unsigned) from our favorite thrift store for $3. After doing some research, we estimate that it's worth about $1,000.
Wheeling, West Virginia
For Love of the Frame
Several years ago, I was working in my husband's glass shop when a lady, who owned an antique store, brought in an old painting in a beautiful frame. She thought if we put glass in it for her, it might sell easier. I fell in love with the frame (not the painting) and instead of putting glass in it for her, I ended up buying it. After coming home around midnight from my second job, I decided to unwind by watching Antiques Roadshow. Just as I was about to doze off, I saw that painting, only it had been copied onto a ceramic plate or something of that nature. I brought the painting home from the office and put it in a spare room where the sunlight does not touch it. (Just in case!!) I believe it has something on the back (barely legible) that says 'Eaters of Bread' or 'Eaters of Fruit' and the name Muriella (also barely legible). I have not had any luck with research so far, so maybe someday I'll be able to get on the Antiques Roadshow and my mystery will be solved! Even if it is worthless, though, it will always have a story behind it for us.
Patience Pays Off
About 5 years ago or so, my mother and I went to a flea market we usually venture to every month. Well on that beautiful Sunday morning in May, we went to the local antique store and saw this beautiful red dragon ashtray stand. It was an exact replica of one my great grandfather used to have, and which my uncle now proudly owns. The price at that time was $350, a little high for us, so we went home. We came back a year later and in the very same spot was the dragon — still too expensive for us, but it was funny that no one took it. Another year passed, and this time we didn't see it in its proud post but in the back behind many other trinkets. It was now $275 — we thought "If its here next year, it's ours." Sure enough, the next year, there it was, a hidden treasure. We got it for $225, and boy did it make us very happy. I said to my mother "When Antique Roadshow comes to Trenton I'm taking the dragons to be appraised."
Plainsboro, New Jersey
Cat and Mouse Game
I often browse the thrift stores as I do my weekend errands. One Saturday morning, I snoozed a few extra minutes, made a phone call, and lingered over a second cup of coffee before beginning my rounds. I found a few things at my first stop and got in line at the cashier's behind a man holding a tarnished, nondescript copper tray. Only it wasn't, as I knew the instant I looked at it closely. But did he? "Excuse me," I said, "That's a nice tray." A flicker of a smile crossed his face. "Yes," was his noncommittal response. "Is it signed?" I pressed. "Yes," he replied softly. "By whom?" I demanded. Another faint smile. "Dirk Van Erp," he said, handing the cashier $1.99 for a tray worth $500 or more. Cat and mouse game over, I sighed over the cost of a few minutes' sleep, a second cup of coffee, and a phone call to I-can't-remember-whom.
San Francisco, California
Seeing Antiques in a Whole New Way
About two-and-a-half years ago, my sister and I decided to visit an antique store that a friend of ours owned. On that particular day nothing really caught my eye, until I came upon a pile of old paintings and prints. Among them I found a really old sketch of daily life along a canal in Venice. It's simply done in ink with a title at the bottom of it and the name of the artist, which was T.M. Wendel. Despite the fact that the manager of the store would not sell me the sketch, the owner's niece gladly let me have it for only $40. On a hunch, I researched the name of the painter, and it turned out that there really was an American impressionist painter by that name. Who knows, I may truly have the work of a little-known American master hanging on my wall right now. A lot of clues point to this: the newspaper used at the back of the sketch in the framing has the date of 1886, which coincide with the date when my artist was still a working artist. $40 has certainly made me look at antiques in a more personal way.
Brooklyn, New York
History Locked in a Locket
After my grandmother passed away, my family was searching for an antique locket that she had spoken about for years. I was in my early 20s at the time, and they hadn't asked me. It finally came up in conversation with my mother once, and I told her that I had the locket and that my grandmother had given it to me years earlier. The locket appears to be brass and has raised flowers of brass and is about two and one-half inches long. It opens up and can hold two pictures inside. The back side of the case looks like flowers also, but they are part of the back, as if they were pounded into the metal. At the time my asked me about the locket, she told me it was over 120 years old. I've had it for at least 30 years.
White Bear Township, Minnesota
We just moved to Fordyce, Arkansas and were walking through downtown when we saw a little thrift store. What we found there shocked us. In the back of the store is a one of a kind marble Gary Safe Co. bank vault. It was bought back in the late 1800's or early 1900's by A.B. Banks & Co. Insurance. There are several thrift stores in downtown with great finds like this.
When my dad passed away, I found a framed picture of a ship he was on in the basement. I took the picture out of the frame and found a poster of a navy plane behind it. It has two waves and three men, and it tells what rank they are, and it is signed by H. Charles McBarron. I was so happy I found it. I had it framed and when I look at it I think of my dad.
One night I dreamt that someone left me something to me in their will, because I stopped to help them out when no one else did. The next day a neighbor's daughter knocked at my door and said, "you know my mother died a few days ago, right?" I said, "yes," and then all of a sudden, she handed me a collector's plate and said, "my mom left this for you. " She went on to say that one day I had stopped to help her mother catch a cab when no one else did, and she wanted to thank me but never got the chance. Well when I opened the box I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the most beautiful plate I'd ever seen.
New York, New York
The "Original" House that Jack Built?
While taking down plaster walls in our kitchen we found three books. One of them is a receipt book for someone selling trees in 1886. Another is Osgood's "American First Reader" and is kind of damaged. The one of interest, though, is a copy of "The House that Jack Built" published by Carlton & Porter. It's my understanding that "The House that Jack Built" had to be rewritten many times because no one could ever find a complete copy of the original, but I believe this may be an original!
W. Springfield, Pennsylvania
An Impression of Degas
A signed Degas charcoal drawing with some pastel or other color has been in our family for about 60 years. It was purchased in a small art gallery off 5th Avenue in New York City during the early- to mid-1950s. Every time we look at the sketch or drawing, someone says it is a fake. However, my mother is a most skeptical person, and I am sure that she was careful to buy the real thing. So, although this sketch may have considerable value, it has been set aside and is mostly just ignored. It is signed in red ink on the lower left corner. The drawing is still owned by my mother who will be 98 years of age this year.
All Dolled Up
I have this very unique antique doll that actually gives people the spooks. She is very old and spent the last 70 years in an attic. I purchased her on craigslist, and I feel she may be worth a lot of money! She is 2 feet tall with brown real-looking hair and beady eyes. She has arms that are connected to the shoulders as if she were a marionette that had string to move the arms. She splits at the waist, where it looks like a small rod fit to make her turn at the waist. The shoulders, chest, and head look to be made of composition, and the bottom is carved wood with Dutch-looking shoes connected to legs. She has on a papier-mâché skirt and long red and white striped socks. She is very dirty from age and use. Her beautiful smile and eyes just have something about them that make you spiritually love her as a child. I take her to public places and get so many reactions! Some people say she is spooky and others say she is beautiful. While we are in the car, I have her sit looking out the window and get many laughs. Some ask, "what in the world is that?" She is a museum piece and truly one-of-a-kind. In fact people are asking me to bring her back to bingo so they can see her again!
Rock Hill, South Carolina
A Vital Violin
In the 1970s I was given an old violin by a music teacher in Green Bay, WI, and it was marked as a Stradivarius. A few years later, I met a man who was a classical pianist in Madison, WI, and he took an interest in my violin. He was a recovering alcoholic, and I was very impressed with his violin skill, so I gave him the violin. At the time, I believe the man was in his 40s. People keep telling me that violins were routinely marked as Stradivarius violins when they were not actually that make, but what I have always wondered, is if the man recovered from his alcoholism and whether he kept the violin. When I read someone else's violin story online here, I decided to mention this.
An Article of History
I bought an antique rocking chair about 10 years ago. Last evening I was taking pictures of it and turned it over and glued to underneath the straw seat there was an article. Weird! This is the article:
Du Pont Heir Faces Competency Battle — Philadelphia
An heir to the Du Pont chemical fortune who was found mental incompetent after he gave money to political extremist Lyndon LaRouche goes to court this week seeking to prove he is fit to manage his own affairs. Lewis du Pont Smith, 33, heir to about $10 million, is due to appear Tuesday in Common Pleas Court before Chester county Judge Lawrence W. Wood. It will mark the latest development in a 5-year-old-squabble pitting Smith against his parents. On one side, the wealthy du Pont clan believes Smith is being influenced by LaRouche. On the other, Smith says the family is irked because they don't approve of his political beliefs.
Someone wrote a name in ink along the right side of the article — Anne Jacobs. Wonder why anyone would glue this to the chair and put the name beside it?
Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania
Design Is In the Details
While driving in my car past a very large estate, I noticed a very old antique love seat that was in the garbage awaiting pick up on the street. I sat in the seat and, liking its dimensions, I took the seat home and put a protective tarp on top of it and kept it in the back yard. The love seat was noticed by an antique auctioneer, who was shocked to see this piece of furniture outside the home and wanted to know all about it. The antique dealer asked to see the bottom of the seat. All she could repeat was, "Oh my God, Oh my God I can't believe this!" She noticed the nails were hand made and expressed that this was an original seat of very old age — more than 300 years old!
Centereach, New York
A Small Touch-Up
I inherited a painting from my father William James Condon by a French woman named Madeleine Lemair. I was told it is called "The Sleep of Manon." It is a beautiful painting with a magnificent gilded frame. I looked this painting up, and it does not look like exactly my painting, it is similar but not the same. My father, who passed away many years ago used to love to tell the story of the painting and did so every time a new guest came to the house. He would start with his Grandfather, Martin John Condon Sr., who bought the painting out of the original Waldorf Astoria lobby, which was torn down to build the Empire State Building. He brought it home to Nashville and hung it in the lobby of his hotel The Maxwell House. Supposedly, in its original state, the female figure in the painting was nude and sleeping on a bed of flowers. The story goes that one day my Great-Grandmother, Kathrine McMillan Condon, overheard my Great-Grandfather telling some friend that it was a painting of his girlfriend in New York. Hearing this story she immediately took the painting to an artist and had a black veil painted over the bottom half of the young lady so she would appear to be dead. My father would laugh and laugh every time he told the story. It was legend in our house.
Home With A History
While writing a story about a local trout farmer named Bill Bevan in Bellevue, Iowa, I was lucky enough to have Bill welcome me into his family home. With pride he showed me three stories of perfect antiques, rooms and rooms of beds, tapestries, handiwork, tables, wardrobes, mirrors, chairs, paintings, vanities, and all the makings of a complete home. The library on the third floor was in incredible condition, documenting his family history, which has major Iowa roots. The library includes a huge archive of maps, books, and photographs. The origins of nearly every item in the house are known. Bill is a dear man who is sitting on a treasure trove. He tells his family story with great pride, passion, and detail. His watery blue eyes, white hair, and soft voice make him a lovable and engaging narrator. One interesting note: His story is one of protecting a family legacy and not seeking riches from the collected treasures. Bill has never been interested selling these items and they are stored in a 200+ year-old house that is falling apart at the seams. It's holding on for now, but eventually this story might get washed away by the very fresh water stream that he farms trout from.
Iowa City, Iowa
A Poetic Piece
My sister and I often go to various thrift stores in our area. Today, we stumbled upon a beautifully handwritten poem. The name of the poem is, "How Do I Love Thee" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It's so amazing to see the excellent condition of a document that was handwritten in the mid-1800s. We would like to be able to compare the handwriting of the document with Elizabeth Barrett Browning's. Looking for antiques is a great challenge and so addictive. We both love doing it, and we never know what we may be bringing home at the end of the day. It's a great adventure!
A Young Girl and her Bird
I have an Ezio Marzi, Firenza painting of a young girl with an empty birdcage. Bird food has spilled on the floor and the girl is gazing wide-eyed into the air after the bird. My mother rescued this from the trash years ago, and I have had it since. I cannot find any Ezio Marzi art like it, but it definitely has the characteristics of his other paintings.
We have a set of dishes that we bought at an estate auction. For a few years we used them for everyday use. Finally, I decided to see when they were made. I checked the company and kept looking and looking for them. Eventually, I found out that they were made between 1890 and 1894 by New Warf, but they are not the normal blue pattern. They are, I guess, called the Madras-Green Nepmad. I have seen a similar plate on a site to order dishes, but they don't actually have any. I have been on their list for at least two years, and they still don't have any! Well, when I found out a couple of years ago that they were made only for approximately 4 years, I put them away very carefully!
A Philadelphia Story
My parents watch the program together, and every time my dad says, "I bet we have something!" Finally, my dad goes to the basement and digs out a box he found while working that was abandoned from an estate liquidation. Opening the box much later, they found documents dated 1784, referencing the Supreme Executive Council and Philadelphia belonging to a John Morris (related to Lewis and Robert Morris). Money is referred to in pounds rather than dollars and the writing was described as something out of the constitution.
Connected through Collectibles
My dad was recently cleaning out the garage and asked me if I'd like to come over and have a look at anything before he called goodwill. I went over and came across two pictures, one male and one female, that seemed to be made out of pounded copper with a balsa wood frame. The glass over the female frame is broken, but all the jewels and decor still seemed to be in place. The glass over the male is in tact, although both have slight water damage. I asked my dad about them and he said that when he was growing up in Modesto, it would have been around 1950 or so, my grandmother (GM for short) had bought them from an estate sale of a wealthy couple, who had also lived in Modesto. My grandmother had said that these were hand made especially for those people and were worth quite a bit of money and my dad remembers them hanging on her walls for years. I thought they were absolutely beautiful; so I brought them home, and I figure with a little TLC they will one day hang on my walls too. GM passed away in 2001 and shortly before she passed, she had broken her arm in a fall. I happened to work for a nursing home at the time so I ended up taking care of her for most of the summer. We really became close and it was the first time that we had actually ever connected as grandmother/granddaughter. After all this time, it's nice to be able to find something else we connect over too.
Citrus Heights, California
Judging a Painting By Its Cover
While walking my dog in Brooklyn one morning, I came across a very typical pile of old furniture and garden refuse neatly laid out on the edge of the sidewalk of my residential neighborhood waiting for the trash truck, which was only paces behind me. As I noticed the neat brown paper backing of the framed object nearest me, my mother's voice popped into my head saying, "if its professionally framed, its worth looking at." So I leaned the frame outward and took a peek to find one of the most enchanting images I have ever seen! I brought the painting back home with me, leaving it for further inspection that night. As I cleaned up the frame and glass I became more and more intrigued about the image and the artist. After doing a little research, I found that the artist was part of a watercolor movement that came out of California in the 20th century. Although I have yet to find any information on this particular piece, I have reason to believe it is an original.
Brooklyn, New York
Under a Rock
I was a plumber in my first life. I was called to a home here in Tucson to do some work. When I entered the home, I noticed some interesting rocks and minerals just inside the front door. When I had finished the repairs, I asked about the table's contents. She told me it was "stuff" she was going to sell in a yard sale the next weekend. I was very interested in one particular rock that had a face carved into it. The reason for my interest was that I had seen that face on a famous piece of art on t.v. or in a book somewhere, and it looked almost identical to what I had seen. She said she wanted thirty dollars for it. I told her I had only twenty in my pocket. The deal was done. The interesting part of this story is that she said she was standing in her back yard one day and felt as if she were being watched. She then began looking around and spotted this rock, half-buried in the yard, looking right at her.
Stories of Adventure
I was looking through a bin of my father and grandfather's old things, when I discovered two books. One of the books is entitled, Robinson Crusoe with Color Illustrations. On the side of the cover it reads, Words in One Syllable. I searched the internet but didn't find another book with the same illustrated cover. The second book is entitled, The Monkey Show and is a hard-back children's picture book. Both books are published by McLoughlin Brothers NY. Both are signed and gifted to Cambell Neil. The books are from two different people for Christmas 1888. One was gifted on December 21, 1888 (Crusoe) and the other on December 24, 1888. The books are amazingly illustrated. The Crusoe book is missing its back cover and is worn on the front edges. The other book is missing its edge binder. It was a very fun find!
I was surprised that you mentioned the German instrument maker Gottlieb Dolling. My great-great-grandfather studied under him in Markneukirchen before he came to America. He and his brother came to America and opened a musical instrument store on Front St. in Baltimore in the late 1850s. Dolling's grandson came to Philadephia also. You can still find some of the instruments made by Kummer & Schetelich (his brother's brother-in-law) today.
Cornered the Market
When people ask me what sport I'm interested in, I always tell them my three favorites, which include: thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets. My love affair with antiques has gone on since I was about ten years old. Several years back I visited a rather junky shop — I guess you'd call it a "junktique" shop, as it was a mixture of junk and antiques. In browsing around, I discovered, half-buried under a bunch of other stuff, a very unique couch. It seems to have been built to fit in a corner. The frame and legs, I believe, are mahogany, and it was originally stuffed with the old black horsehair — we've since had it restored. But what really makes this piece unique is that it has a small locking curio cabinet built right on the back, also shaped uniformly to fit in the corner. I've never seen anything like it before nor after in any magazines, books, or catalogues.
Through the Eyes of a Child
I recently inherited an oil painting from my late Uncle from South Africa. As a child of 3-4, I would stare at the child in the painting. She has an armful of oranges. I would ask who she was, and I was told it was my cousin Bernice. Of course, it was not, but as a young impressionable child, I believed it. Whenever I returned to South Africa for a visit, I would stare at the painting. I was fortunate to have my cousins bring it to the US for me last month. There is a tiny 1/4-inch tear in the canvas but not in a prominent place. The frame is a beautiful, ornate gold. I have loved it for the past 58 years. I have no idea how old it is, but my uncle traveled the world from the 1920s on and must have acquired the painting along his travels. He had exquisite taste.
I have always loved anything that had a story attached to it. The best is a pewter spoon I found while cleaning out an old basement in a building that had been in my husband's family for ages. In an old cardboard box I found a pewter spoon. On the handle is "Surrender of Cornwallis." In the bowl of the spoon are raised images of soldiers, some on horseback carrying a flag. The back of the handle has "American Pewter Co." on it. How could I not have known about this incredible historic event? Thank you, old cardboard box, for a wonderful peek into the long ago past!
I'm sharing this story written to me by my 91-year-old friend, LaVona of Rochester, New Hampshire.
In the 1970s, I had a neighbor who gave me a beautiful antique table for my living room window (to put my lamp on). I really don't know exactly what the table is, but it has darker wood, is round and has a drawer in the front. It also has beautiful legs with capped feet. I used this table for many years and enjoyed it very much. It eventually cracked on top and so it was placed in my guest bedroom for eventual repair. For over a year now, I've had a volunteer come to my house to visit every Saturday. One Saturday, I asked her to go into my guest bedroom to search for something. When she came downstairs she was very excited and had discovered my antique table. She said that she had the same EXACT table in her house!! We laughed about that and discussed the history of each table. She had purchased hers through an antique auction in NH. This last Christmas, I was trying to think of the PERFECT gift to give my friend. I gave her the table so that she could have a matching pair. She said that I couldn't have given her a better present! I just really wanted to share this story as we were so amazed by the circumstances."
Milton, New Hampshire
Costumed as Costume Jewelry
An appraiser friend of mine has many stories that peak the interest of treasure hunters, and this story is one of my favorites. While he is best known for assisting wealthy families by conducting professional estate sales, he also assists local families who prefer to hold the sales themselves by offering his appraisal services (for a reasonable fee) to help them price the items in their sale. He received a call from a family who had already set up and priced a garage sale for their grandmother's personal property. At the last minute they had doubts about their pricing and called him to come and give them a sanity check. He found many items they had priced "way under the money," but the treasure of the day was found on the costume jewelry table. One of the baggies marked $2 had eight rings in it. As he looked through the clear plastic, his professional eye spotted a 2.5 carat diamond in a platinum setting. The family commented that since they were unaware that Grandma had this ring and it was so large and unmarked, they were inclined to think it was costume. Eventually, the ring was sold for $15,000 and needless to say, the appraiser earned his fee and the "garage sale" ended up bringing them over five times what they'd hoped for.
— Faith Ann
I recently recovered a box of rare postcards and letters sent to and from Erich and Frieda Gugler. There is also one letter that Erich wrote to his father Julius Gugler, and a letter Julius wrote to his son circa 1915. The NY Times reporter Christopher Gray wrote an article, which mentioned Mr. Gugler's architecture back in 1999. After doing a little research on my own, I learned that Mr. Gugler was an architect for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and designed several rooms of the White House. I also learned that his sister Frieda was an artist.
Valley Cottage, NY
Buy What You Love
Years ago I purchased a small painting at an antique store for $10. I fell in love with the moonlit scene of Mt. Shasta. I grew up with a litho of a Robert Wood and recognized the name of the back of the painting. All these years later I was told that this was an early Wood painting and valued at $500! It is always good to buy what you love!
After my grandmother passed away, we were gathering her belongings, and I found an envelope that she had left for me. Inside the envelope was foreign currency from all over the world, but that is not where the excitement comes in. Behind the currency was a folded-up newspaper. It appeared to be quite old and to my surprise, it was the newspaper announcing that President Lincoln had been assassinated. I was so shocked to see it and could not believe my eyes. It is a true newspaper from that time period!
After buying my first house in the summer of '08, I really wanted a vanity for my bedroom. I looked around but could not afford anything like I wanted. One day on my way home, I saw a vanity sitting on the curb kitty-corner from my house. I pulled over right away. It was perfect! I knocked on the owners' door and was told to just take it! They were unable to sell it at their garage sale. I brought it home, looked it over and was shocked to find the plaque intact inside the drawer &mdash West Michigan Furniture Company. The furniture factory is out of Holland, Michigan. Most of their pieces like mine are sitting in museums! Great find! I have sent pictures around to lots of antique stores, and no one can match it up to the typical plaque they used. Still kinda neat!
Spring Lake, Michigan
My father, an amateur ventriloquist and a professor of speech and drama, always told me that his ventriloquist's dummy, named Gakes, was made by the same craftsman who made the original Charlie McCarthy and that he had known Edgar Bergen personally. Now that I have inherited Gakes, my research confirms that my father was indeed at Northwestern University with Edgar Bergen in the mid 1920s and Gakes has the same type of construction as Charlie. I believe my father asked Edgar Bergen where he got his dummy and then had Theo Mack make a similar dummy for him.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Instrument of History
Last November, my mother's old Weymann Tenor 4-string banjo was returned to me by a grandson of her best friend. She probably gave it to him after she retired as a music teacher in 1980. According to a letter from Mom about all the instruments she owned during her music career, this banjo was given to her by the husband of her oldest sister, when Mom was in junior high in the late 1920s. Mom was born in 1915. Based on that and a serial number of 20268, I'm guessing that this banjo is close to 100 years old. I've replaced the strings, head, and bridge and it is now usable. What is also of historical value is the old, damaged, head. It includes three hand drawn sketches related to Mom's WWII service as a Women's Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). I also have a 1943 picture of Mom with the banjo while she was in training for her WASP service.
Three years ago, we purchased a pile of old prints (all 19th-Century) with the intention of framing some and keeping them. It took time to get around to them, but on taking one apart (an old Italian Engraving from a painting commissioned by the King of Naples), we found on the engraving backing a signature and an address. The signature was H. Melville, and the address was 104 East 26th Street, NY, NY. The engraving is at least 160 years old. The signature sure looks like a dead copy of all of the Melville Signatures I have been able to find, and the address is Herman Melville's last address in NYC. I am meeting this week with the foremost authority on Melville's Art Collection — he was an avid print and reproduction collector — as he is presently writing a book on Melville's art. He wants to put the engraving in his catalog and try to determine how this one "escaped" from Melville's family and the Melville Association. I'm waiting on final authorization, but thought you would find it interesting that the signature stayed hidden behind framing backing paper for so long and just happened to be noticed by my wife when preparing to reframe it so many years later. It has to be "real" as no one at the time would have taken the time to duplicate a Melville signature and then hide it — he was simply not that famous at the time, and the value of his books did not really come into public recognition until long after he died. Fun stuff! We are keeping it and have it in a safe deposit box now based on some incredible values we have seen on the internet for a signature on a known collector's item.
Johnson City, Texas
Hunting for Family Heirlooms
My grandfather was a very prolific artist but very humble. Many of his works were in the World's Fairs and expositions. He painted in many genres, but his ceramics and porcelains were the most prominent. He also did watercolors, oils on wood, and canvas, and we have been told he made tapestries. He also made pigskin lampshades. I watch ANTIQUES ROADSHOW faithfully hoping one of his works will show up, as I know he has many pieces scattered all over the country. I search antique shops whenever possible, especially when we take road trips, which we have been doing a lot since my husband retired. My grandfather's name is Henry Otto Punsch, but he signs most of his works with H.O. Punsch. I am ever hopeful of coming across something done by him - it would mean a lot to me. An antique appraiser in Ohio told me that his works are equivalent to Franz Aulich. That is my antiquing story.
Oro Valley, Arizona
Family Photo with a Famous Cameo
Back in the late 1940's, my father worked as a barber at the movie studios in Culver City, CA. Back in those days, they apparently employed barbers just to cut the stars' hair. I found an 8x10 glossy picture of Alfred Hitchcock among my dad's photos after he passed away. Mr. Hitchcock is sitting in a barber chair reading a magazine and my father is cutting his hair. The magazine is a Life Magazine with Betty Grable on the cover. It is signed, "To Dee Hendrick from Alfred Hitchcock". My daughter found it in the box one day and encouraged me to frame it. The photo now figures prominently among my family photos on the wall... a real conversation piece.
Thrift Shop Payoff
While visiting a local thrift shop, here in Shelby, N.C., I found an original painting by an artist from Columbia, S.C. The painting was from the early 1900s, so I bought it. When I went home and googled the artist's name — Alice Scott — I found that a gallery in S.C. sold one of her paintings for over $900. I scanned my painting and sent it in to their agent. Later, I heard back from them and was asked to send the painting for an appraisal. It was real, and the gallery put it up for auction in June 2009. It sold for over $1000! It really does pay to go to flea markets, yard sales, etc. Wow!
Shelby, North Carolina
A Ride to Remember
A picture of a car featured in your San Antonio Tour Slideshow brings back fond memories... My father owned a Subaru Dealership from the late '60s-'80s, and I remember the car that is in your picture — it's a Subaru 360! I remember a very bumpy ride to the seashore in one as a kid. They were so small, and at a time when everyone was driving huge automobiles, they were hard to sell. My father would complain about how they could fit 10 on a transport truck (normally only 8 normal cars fit). He would drive them home at night and park them in the back yard. My Mom would then drive him to work the next morning so he could repeat the task again and again. He did this so it looked like they were selling off his lot! When 360's were discontinued, my brothers and I would make use of the old stock parts by using the 360's fiberglass roofs as snow sleds. I have never had another sled that went so fast! It was great to see the old car on your website. It brings back a flood of great old memories.
I collect early 1900s postcards. My greatest find (which I didn't know at the time) was at an antique show in Des Moines, in 2005. I came across a postcard with a cancellation date of June 6, 1910 that was addressed to someone in Quasqueton, IA. My grandparents lived close to that town when they were alive. It had a 1" x 1" picture glued on the front of the card. I bought it because of the town on the address. Months later I was going through my postcards and read the note on the back of this card. My grandmother had an unusual first name and that was the signature on the note. I went through pictures I had of my grandmother and discovered that it was her on the front of the postcard. I called my aunt and asked her if she knew the person that the card was sent to. It was my grandmother's best friend. My grandmother was 12 years old when she sent that postcard, and I came across it 95 years later.
— Donna Burlington
Folsom Prison Ship
I stopped at a house one day that had all its garage items out in the driveway. It looked somewhat organized so I stopped to see how much they wanted for a ship I saw there. They informed me that it wasn't a sale and they were just cleaning their garage. I still tried to buy this wooden ship with sails. The owner said he bought it at an antique store about 50 years ago. His wife said why don't you sell it to her, you just keep it in the garage anyway. So I purchased this ship. I later discovered that it was made by a prisoner in Folsom State Prison. He carved his name and prisoner number on it. It is just beautiful. It looks like an old pirate ship with sails and everything. I still have it.
— Jo Anne
About sixty years ago my parents steered their boat into magnificent Princess Louisa Inlet, a fjord on the British Columbia coast. The dock was full that day, and the courtesy among boaters is to allow late arrivals to raft up next to boats that are already docked. It soon became evident that the couple on the next boat were drunk and fighting. Soon a man appeared on the deck. He was carrying a large bear, about 3 feet tall, carved from greenish-black stone. He yelled something like, "I can't stand my wife's so-called taste in art. I'm going to throw this damn thing overboard!" Since Princess Louisa waters are about 2,000 feet deep, the object would have been lost forever. "Wait," Dad yelled, "don't throw it away! I'll give you $100 for it." Dad never said whether the man took any money for the bear, but he and Mom brought it safely home. The bear has both arms swung to one side and looks like he's ready to do the Charleston, so when I inherited him I named him after this dance.
My mother gave my dad a musical ball ornament for Christmas the year I was born. The red ornament has a hook on the top and was always hung at the top of the doorframe between the kitchen and dining room. When I was little I used to have to ask someone to pull the ball down so I could listen to it play "Silent Night." When I got older I found out that my mother's sister also bought the same musical ornament. Before my aunt was placed into a nursing home she gave me her musical ornament. It was, and still is, wrapped in its original package and placed in a bigger box. My aunt is now 93 years old. The ornament was purchased in 1964 at a store call Hutzler's in Baltimore, Maryland, and a certificate in the box says the ornament was made in Germany. It's red and has a few little diamond-like stones on the surface. I have never seen another ornament quite like this one.
Digging for Treasure
I was doing some landscaping about six or seven years ago when I discovered an old pipe. It's the kind of pipe that's common to the French who settled here over 200 years ago. I also found a gold bracelet in the same place as the pipe, three and a half feet from the surface. I wonder if the bracelet is as old as the pipe. I was told it was solid white gold. I'm not sure if it's worth anything, but it could be worth a lot.
Baie Verte, Newfoundland
Little Book Nobody Wanted
My mom was almost 92 when she died. Her five children divided up her books, jewelry, and other treasures. Because I live in Bakersfield, and so did Mom, I was left with a suitcase of things that no one wanted but I didn't want to get rid of. In this suitcase was a little old book written in German. No one, including me, paid much attention to it. Then, just recently, I looked through the suitcase again. I picked up the book and looked it over. It is written by H.G. Wells and was published in 1911 in Gutenberg. The inside cover is signed by Hilda Wells. It has a green leather cover and is in great shape.
Civil War Cup
I found this small antique shop with my mom when I was young. The old woman behind the counter was very nice and allowed me to purchase a Civil War-era drinking cup that she said belonged to General Lee. I wonder if this cup could be worth anything. I would feel bad in a way if it was, because the woman sold it to me for the coins in my change purse all those years ago.
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
When I was a child in the 1950s-1960s, my mother would buy old furniture to save money. She bought it at what she called "junk stores." Then she would completely refurbish the furniture by hand. Today she has a collection of very beautiful antiques. Recently, she asked me to take an end table that folds into a chair or vise versa. It is walnut and very beautiful. The only other chair/table I have ever seen like it was on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. Anyway, I believe the appraiser said that there were only three chair/tables like this known in existence, and it was valued at $75,000. This chair/table is only one of many fine pieces my mother has.
Greensboro, North Carolina
All of my 54 years I have had a fascination with a table owned by my grandmother. She had seven children and my grandfather was a coalminer who died of black lung disease. I was told that during the Depression she had worked as a domestic for the Oppenheimer family in New York City. I don't know if it's true, but I like to think so. The story has it that they were remodeling and gave my grandmother a table that was made by the Knoxville Table and Chair Company. It is an oval table about 36 inches long that sits on a base with two pedestals. It also has a drawer on one side. I have not been able to find out anything about the table. I now am the proud owner and sit at the table daily.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
While searching in an antique store I found an old and tattered engraving titled "George Washington" that was published on January 1, 1800, about two weeks after his death. I purchased it for a mere $10 and have used it to teach children a little more about our nation's first president. I have only found editions published February 1, 1800, with the title of "General Washington" instead of "George Washington" like mine. It was a great find and my most treasured and beautiful item.
A Good Deed Rewarded
I was at a church rummage sale recently. I looked around the tables but didn't find anything of interest. Then just as I was getting ready to leave I found a pocketbook on the floor under one of the tables. It had a wallet and other personal items in it. I gave it to one of the women in charge of the sale and they found the owner. Well, you know the saying about when you do a good deed it comes back to you? Well, it came back really quick, because afterwards I noticed some open boxes toward the back of the room. There were about five boxes. There was another woman rummaging through them. I just picked one and started to rummage. It was mostly fabric pieces and odds and ends. I saw this black ribbon and pulled it up. As I am pulling it up all these brooches are on it. There are about 10 of them. I started to look at the brooches and one in particular caught my eye. I looked on the back and it was marked "Miriam Haskell!" I couldn't believe it! I bought the ribbon full of brooches for $5 (50 cents apiece) and brought them home to get a better look. There was only one Miriam Haskell brooch out of the whole bunch but it was worth the five dollars! It has rhinestones, pink and pearl beads, and purple and pink stones all over. I have seen her jewelry on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW and have always wished to find such beautiful and collectible jewelry. I finally did! Yeah!
Albany, New York
German "Log Box"
We bought our house fully furnished in 1972. The former owner left a large, ornate wood box that was handmade by his grandfather and brought over from Germany. It has a hammered metal overlay that is three-dimensional with ornate Grecian figures filled with some type of plaster. It also has a filigree border around the scenes decorating the three sides of the box. They had used it as a log box but it is very ornate and formal to be used for that. No one knows anything about one nor have I ever seen one in the antique books.
Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery
My wife and I were with some friends in Ohio in August 2000 before we moved to Arizona a few years later. We had lunch at a restaurant in Clifton Mills. After lunch, we visited some of the antique shops. I saw this small black pot. I purchased it because we had just purchased land in Arizona and we both have had interest in Native American art of all kinds. We took the pot home and after looking at it we saw writing on the bottom. Parts were clear and other parts were hard to read. What was clear was Santa Clara pueblo, but we couldn't make out the three words at the top. They looked like A ace Medicine Flower. We are 99.9% certain that this pot is one of the earliest pieces made by Grace Medicine Flower as a child. There is a little more to the story, but the shop wanted $38 for the pot and I told them I would pay $35. With tax it was $36.73.
My father was in the jewelry business and in 1944 bought a cup at an estate auction. Our family home had a porch where all the kids congregated. We threw our crayons, playing cards, and the usual junk into the cup. After my parents died I took the cup with me as an afterthought, and have had it ever since. I recently did research and found that William Eley made the cup in 1784, and it was given to a J.L. Tuck, whom I have not traced. I was told by one auction house that they would put it in their "special" sale and would expect it to go for as much as $10,000.
I went to an antique show at one of our local churches and they had this book, The Grandeur of the Gorges by Donald Mennie. All that is wrong with it is the cover, which looks like it got wet. All the 50 photos and stories inside were not harmed. I did some research and I know that there were only one thousand copies made and my copy is number 170. I found out that one of these books was worth $16.50 and it was number 500 or so. I paid $20 for my book. I do not know if it is worth any money but I have it.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
My 15-year-old son and I were searching in my mother-in-law's storage for 1976 7-Up soda cans that my husband had saved all this time. They were to be set up in a pyramid to create a picture of the Statue of Liberty. To my dismay we didn't find them; I don't recall seeing them in 1976 or any other time. Instead we found a cache of Willow Ware by Royal China. My mother-in-law gave the collection to us and I've researched them. The cups and bowls seem to be a bit different in style from any I can find online. I wonder how old these are, where they were made, what style collection they are, and their worth today. They make a lovely display -- but I don't have enough space to display all of them!
I was recently asked if I wanted some old dishes before they went to the dump. They are cup-and-saucer sets with "Republic of Germany" on them and an old platter with teapots dated 1792. I am guessing that these were brought over by early whalers to Canada's Western Arctic. Great, eh?
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
My grandfather was in World War II and was stationed all over Europe. At some point he ventured to India, where he acquired a hand-carved knife or dagger with a wooden sheath and handle and a hand-forged blade. I have never seen anything like it. He passed away several years ago and it was recently handed down to me. It is certainly one of a kind.
The Fork and the Spoon
When I was about six years old, I started going to my great aunt and uncle's farm for the summer and did so for many years. They always had a wooden fork and spoon hanging on the wall. They had to sell the farm and my uncle passed away shortly after that. My aunt had the fork and spoon on the wall in her kitchen until she also passed away. I inherited them. They are now hanging in my kitchen on the wall. They are 40 inches tall. Before my grandmother passed away she told me that my aunt had gotten them from her brother, who brought them back from Hawaii when he was the military. She also said that they were hand carved by a native Hawaiian. I have always wondered about the history behind them.
My grandfather's uncle gave him a shotgun, which my grandfather passed down to my father and my father passed down to me. Grandfather called his uncle "Uncle Doctor." The story goes that uncle was a doctor and he received this shotgun as payment from a patient. Another story is that a friend gave it to him as a gift. It's a custom-made double-barreled shotgun that has been in the family for at least 90 years and probably more than that. The name N. Lenhard Rzeszow is engraved on the barrel. The initials JB are engraved on the part where the firing pins are located and between the two hammers. There's a raised cheek piece on the stock and checkering on the handgrip. The screws and trigger guard are decoratively engraved, and the barrel has a design on it. It has two mounts for a sling. We believe this gun was made in Europe and brought to America by my great-great uncle.
Thrift Store Painting
I found this painting at a Goodwill thrift store and paid $89 for it. As soon I saw the painting I was very attracted to it — something was telling me that it worth a lot more than $89. I tried to negotiate the price but the manager said that it was worth a lot more. I decided to buy it anyway since I really liked it. It was painted by Clarence Thorpe. It is a picture of an Indian fisherman looking at his shadow in the water. It's like looking in the mirror. There's a canoe next to him. This is the best I can describe this painting. It was painted on a sort of velvety canvas. I feel like I have seen this painting before and it is very rare. Well, I hope it's worth more than I paid for it. I really like the painting and I have it on my bedroom wall so I can enjoy it.
One Rainy Night
I have a room divider made of four panels. Each panel has oil paintings of flowers on the upper third, and a collage of turn-of-the-century advertising posters on the lower section. There is no artist's signature. The artwork on the panels is framed with ornamental wood molding and the panels are crowned with wooden balls of different sizes. The frames are covered with red silky material and the reverse side is covered with an upholstery type of material. The four panels are connected with brass hinges that have sharp, curved corners. I wonder if this is a significant piece of artwork or just someone's garage project. It looks to me to be turn-of-the-century stuff from the 1900s. I hesitate to dust or clean anything lest I cut its value from $50,000 to $10. I found it in the street on a rainy night. There you have it.
Ossining, New York
A Watercolor Wonder
I frequent a local thrift store hoping to find my million-dollar treasure, and have found what I believe to be a genuine James Milton Sessions watercolor. I caught a gentleman in the store eyeing my cart and staring at the painting, and when I went up to pay, a woman asked if she could look at it. I said sure. She said she thought it was pretty special and I was lucky to have found it!
Twin Falls, Idaho
You Never Know...
About 40 years ago I made a trip with my mother and sister to a flea market where my mother purchased an old, junky looking violin case. My sister and I were around 11 and 13 years old, and so embarrassed by this old box that we told our mother we were going to walk behind her in case we came across someone we knew.
When we got home my mother opened the case and inside was a violin with the Stradivarius label. My mother is German and when she went home for a visit her sister told her it could be a real one. My mother wrote down what was on the label, and it appears to be identical to what was on the original Stradivarius. My mother paid five dollars for the case and was happy to have just that, because my father had an old violin with no case. So this purchase was for him. I have done some research and found that more than likely it is not an original but you never know... This one looks identical to the original.
I found a pitcher at a Goodwill store. This amazing little pitcher is very old, very heavy, and carved completely out of stone. The outside has been buffed smooth, but it's not shiny. The inside has chisel marks that show how it was carved. The pitcher was carved out of beige stone with thin veins of gray and a small amount of rose. The pitcher and handle are all carved out of one piece. It stands about five inches tall and about five inches wide from the spout to the handle, and weighs about two pounds. I've searched the Internet and found nothing like it. It looks like something from early colonial days. I have several pieces of pottery made during the Civil War by my husband's great-grandfather, who was a potter in Virginia. This pitcher does not look like that pottery. Instead, it looks like it was carved out of a big stone.
When I was 16 years old I used to visit southern California. I always dug in the ground or used my metal detector. One day I went out so far I could see for miles. My detector made a noise and so I started digging. I found a bag that fell apart as I picked it up. A beautiful bracelet fell out. It has a wedding-band design, with a hanging pendant that has a big red stone embedded in a heart. This doesn't look like any machine-made jewelry. It looks handmade. In the back of the heart is hair rolled over paper. It looks like maybe at one time there was a cover over it but not now. I'm 54 years old and still have this bracelet.
An Heirloom on the Table
I received a huge box from my parents. When I opened it, inside was the original box for a Haddon Hall lace tablecloth. It looks like the tablecloth has never been used or even taken out of the box. The original tissue paper and the photo of the tablecloth were inside. I know the tablecloth was my grandmother's. She got it for a wedding present in 1938! My mother-in-law couldn't believe it.
When my deceased husband, a long time sheriff, was searching for illegal corn whiskey stills in the northwestern part of the county back in the 1960s, he found some swords instead. I still have them today: a U.S. Army sword in excellent condition except for a rusted scabbard, and what I assume is a Confederate sword without a scabbard. It wasn't what he set out to find, but it was probably a more interesting treasure.
I recently found the perfect little nightstand at a Goodwill thrift store for $4.99. I intended to sand and paint it "some day." After months of tripping over it in my crowded garage, I finally pulled it out yesterday to get started. As I lifted it up, a panel fell off the back of the table and a pistol in holster fell out! The table has a hidden panel behind a false back in the bottom drawer. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the gun was fully loaded and the safety was not engaged! The pistol is marked Bohmische Waffenfabrik A.G. Prag CZ Pistole Modell 27 and was made in 1942. It is still in pristine condition.
This Ring's a Classic
I am interested in antiques and want to share the story of one that is in my family. My grandfather is distantly related to the composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The tradition in the family was to pass down a diamond ring to the oldest male, and this ring has ended up with my grandfather. It is known that this ring was once Bach's, and it is assumed that he was the one to buy it, although that is not certain. It has been appraised and confirmed to be from the proper time period to fit this story, which is a story that has been told through the family for generations.
An Antique That's Fit to Print
My involvement in the advertising and printing field began in 1953 and continued through 2003. In the 1960s, the company I managed was cleaning out, which necessitated the disposal of several hundred old printing plates that were gathering dust since the early 1930s. One of these plates caught my eye. It showed Lou Gehrig, Miller Huggins, and Babe Ruth sitting together on the bench. At the time, I considered it an interesting paperweight. It was pushed around on my desk and then on a bookshelf for many years until I rediscovered it recently. It certainly is a rare bit of baseball memorabilia.
Lake Orion, Michigan
I was on my way to the grocery store when I came across a yard sale that was at an end. I was not going to stop but I did. There wasn't much left because in my small village the good things go fast and the yard sales are not that big. The sale was at a home where the owners had died and their children were selling what they didn't want. I was drawn to some old picture frames. Some were empty and others were not worth a dime. I decided to take the time to look through them. I took two because they had large prints of elves racing on the backs of white geese. They are having great fun. The other one I took had elves riding on a sleigh pulled by two rabbits, with two laughing fox looking on. The prints are by Margaret W. Tarrant. One of them is called "The Race" and the other is "Water Sport." They are no longer in the frames but I keep them out of the light and they are still very bright. I love them. They have a lot of imagination for 25 cents.
River Hebert, Nova Scotia
Gifts from Grandmother
Being an only child has its advantages. Through no plan of my own, I accumulated most of the furniture from my mother, father, and grandparents. My mother's mother had grown up on a 3800-acre plantation in southern Georgia. I grew up with my grandparents, and my grandmother used to tell me stories of her upbringing. She loved old furniture.
As I grew up the genes of my grandmother sort of kicked in. My love of old stuff grew. My grandmother had a large wall clock that she wound regularly. The clock kept good time. I can still remember going to sleep hearing it tick. When my grandparents died my mother got the clock and some other things. When my mother died I got all of what she had inherited. I hauled these things all over the southeast in my working days, and had the clock cleaned by a local German watchmaker.
I am now 67 and love to go to estate auctions. I was sitting in Books-a-Million one day looking at an antique book. I turned a page and there was my clock. It is a New Haven wall clock. What made it special was that it is a commemorative for Sauer's Extract. I could not believe it. The clock was listed at $3500. That really got me interested in the things my grandmother had left us. There was a rather ugly little wood table. I started researching it. Get this: the table is a William and Mary tavern table. Shock upon shock!
Bay Minette, Alabama
I bought an oak rocking chair at an estate sale for $15. It has a very high back, but is very simple and put together with wooden pegs. The seat has about one-inch cane, and between the cane were pages of The American Needle Woman magazine dated 1924 and 1925. This helped me to date the chair and suggests that it was probably made somewhere around Maine, which is where the magazine was printed. The chair is original and I love it. I really wish the Keno brothers could see it; I know they would love it.
Mother's Tea Set
My dad, who antiques, just handed me a possible Reed and Barton tea set to sell at my yard sale. "Maybe you can get a couple good dollars for it," he said. Well, before I hand something valuable to someone for a "couple good dollars" of course I'm doing research. The set is stamped 1799. It includes two tea pots, creamer, sugar bowl with lid, and something else that I don't recognize... maybe a fingertip bowl? What my dad didn't see because of his poor eyesight was an inscription on one of the teapots: "To Mother from Henry & Charley Dec. 25, 1856." Now I'm sure Henry and Charley shined lots of shoes to afford this beautiful gift for their mother. Every piece has their mother's three initials engraved onto it.
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
Some years ago my husband (who's now deceased) and I would often go to garage sales on Saturdays. One particular Saturday, I came across a large jewelry box filled with jewelry. I bought the entire box including the jewelry for $14. Most of it was Sarah Coventry or Tiffany, and the large, bulky, old-fashioned-looking jewelry was by Miriam Haskell. I researched the Haskell jewelry but I cannot find its value. Some of it looks like it was made from pewter. Well, that's my story.
My grandmother was visiting me in Arizona and I took her to an antique store. She loves to shop for antiques. She bought a picture there that she remembered being on the wall in her elementary school art classroom. When she returned to Alabama, she took it to a person that restores and cleans pictures. When the person took it apart, they found a newspaper from the early 1900s behind the picture. The individual told her that the glass had tiny little bubbles in it and she thought there was a big possibility of this picture being an original! My grandmother was so excited about finding this picture and we have researched it online. It is very meaningful. My grandmother still takes art classes today.
Camp Verde, Arizona
Tale of Two Tins
My father retired after a heart attack and took a job working at a landfill. People would come to dump their trash and dad would make sure the place was kept neat. He brought home some things that my mother made him take back, but one day he brought home these octagon-shaped tins. One has a boy holding a dog on it and the other has a small girl with a bonnet. Dad got them from a man who said his wife had them for years and just got tired of them and threw them out. Dad received them in 1974. I don't know their value, but to me they are priceless because my dad loved them. He hung them in his bedroom until he died in 1989, and then I got them. I will pass them on to my oldest son and he to his oldest daughter. One man's trash did sure become another man's treasure.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Carved Bowl and Lid
It was a very hot and sunny day. A friend and I decided to take refuge at a large indoor garage sale to cool off. I had no intention of going to any garage sales that day, so I brought only five dollars. We were just browsing and I came across a wooden bowl six inches in diameter with carved flowers dyed in a darker tone. It also came with a lid. I handed the bowl to my friend who refused to purchase it, so I placed it back on the table. As we were about to leave a woman announced that they were closing and any items were "mark your price." I asked my friend about that bowl and if she thought they would allow me to purchase it for five dollars. She replied, "It won't hurt to ask, or I can loan you the money for what it is worth." I thanked her and went to retrieve the bowl. I brought it up to the counter and handed the woman the five dollars. She gave me that kind of look, but did not say anything. She took the money and thanked me. We left. When I got home I wiped the bowl clean and noticed it was rather old and hand carved. It's been sitting on top of my counter since. A year later, I saw a similar bowl and lid without the carved flowers appraised on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. It was appraised for $10,000, I think. I could not believe what I was hearing. The bowl that I bought for five dollars may be worth even more, I thought. That would be a miraculous purchase.
A Grand Find
I found a Woodward & Brown square grand piano with huge claw legs that might be mahogany. I found the piano by chance. We were looking at real estate in Cumberland, Maryland, and one of the houses the realtor showed us had this huge piano. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. The house was full of really old antiques. I had the realtor contact the person who was in charge of the estate to see if I could buy the piano. Well, the estate had it on eBay. So I bid on it and I won. This piano sat in a woman's living room for 50 years, just unbelievable. It took six men to move the piano to its next location, as this piano is really heavy. This is definitely a treasure.
Hedgesville, West Virginia
Charles Clewell Vase
While at a garage sale two weeks ago I spotted a pretty vase that I thought would look good on my bathroom vanity. It was priced at $2. I looked it over, saw a label on the bottom that I didn't recognize, and set it back down. After looking over the rest of the items, I picked up the vase again and decided to buy it. Later, I looked up the name on the label and discovered I had bought an original bronze Clewell vase, dated to about 1906, and production number 51! After doing more research I also discovered that mine is one of the largest ones made, at 14 inches tall and 20 inches in diameter at the widest point. I have not been able to find an appraiser as of yet, but I do intend to have it officially appraised. Needless to say, I'm quite proud of my garage sale find!
Fort Worth, Texas
A. Sulka and Company Robe
Several years ago I came across a magnificent A. Sulka and Company full-length men's silk robe. Someone I know was putting it in the trash, and I retrieved it. I had no idea that it was worth anything, but I just knew it was too gorgeous to throw out. Recently I found a little information regarding this designer, and I think I may have a piece of clothing that is very valuable. This beautiful robe is 100% silk and hand sewn. The lining, cuffs, collar, and sash are a beautiful rust color and the contrasting outer layer is a beautiful Chinese-style print. It is absolutely magnificent.
Maxfield Parrish Print
I love collecting antiques but I only buy what catches my eye. A few years ago I was at a flea market here in Grove when I saw an old print that was the most wonderful blue. I bought the print after staring at it for at least 20 minutes. When I got it home I found out that it is from 1910 and is "The Errant Pan" by Maxfield Parrish. The blue that caught my eye is the blue he was famous for. The print is almost 100 years old but is as vibrant as the day it was printed. It was the best 45 dollars I ever spent.
How Sweet It Is
I love old furniture and old things. I was at a local thrift store and ran upon a little old machine called "The Great American Jelly Bean Machine." It is made of dark brown wood and has a round red handle that you use to dispense the jellybeans. There is a red metal spout where the jellybeans roll out. An inscription on it reads: "The Great American Jellybean Machine." How about that, it works perfectly.
Chester, South Carolina
All for 89 Cents
I'm retired and love to search the trash and trinket shops, always searching for that "Treasure." In a box of old stainless steel and plated flatware in a junk shop, I saw an old blackened spoon that was heavily engraved and looked like it had possibilities. I grudgingly handed over my 89 cents for it and took it home and polished it up. Underneath all the crud, it is very beautiful! I've been having a ball researching it on the Internet and other places. What I have is a sterling silver casserole spoon. It is 8 inches long with a scalloped bowl and is in almost new condition. It is stamped H.J. Howe on the back. I believe Howe was an officer in the Civil War and was in many of the great battles under Burnside. After the war, Howe started a very successful jewelry business in Syracuse, New York. What a bunch of research I did, all because of 89 cents. And still more to do. What fun!
A True Friend
I had been caring for a woman's home for 24 years when I moved her into my home at the end of her life. As I was moving her belongings I found a Japanese air map. It's World War II-era of the Philippine Islands. It comes with two letters from a previous owner dated October 1945. It is 21 inches by 16 inches and printed in red and green. It has no American writing on it. I have not shared it or contacted anyone due to my not knowing enough about it. I also have a Chinese lacquer wood table stand from this era. It's six sided with mother-of-pearl pictorial inlays and a protective pine cover. I have more small things from that era, too.
This woman was a delight to care for through all those years, but she never related to her old life. Only after she was gone did I find that her life was filled to the brim with excitement. Yet she lived a life alone. She was a true friend who shared a lot of her wisdom.
When I was five years old, I was beachcombing with my grandmother along Chiniak Beach on Kodiak Island. The tide was very far out when I noticed a light-colored rock wedged between two other rocks. I went to investigate and when I pulled the rock from its resting place and turned it over, it seemed to be a bowl. I ran up to my grandmother with this seven-pound rock and showed her what I had found. She then told me that I was so very lucky. I asked why, and she explained that I had found a seal-oil lamp. I have kept it all these years, only showing it to my family, and to this day I have never had it appraised. I wonder just what I uncovered in my childhood days.
World's Fair Tapestry
I go thrift shopping and 25 years ago I bought this tapestry for around $10. I bought it because I loved its image of a plane flying over water. It's 25 by 41. After watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, I do believe the tapestry came from the 1933-1934 World's Fair in Chicago. Pretty neat.
After losing both parents within 14 months, the time had come for all four children to clean out the family house and shed. My mother had accumulated a great number of flowerpots, all stored in the damp and dark dirt-floored shed. I found what I thought was a brass flowerpot. I liked it well enough to take it back to my home in Georgia and started polishing it. Lo and behold, it was silver. Pure silver. I took it to a jeweler and was told it is of Thai origin, handmade, and definitely pure silver. It appears that it dates back to the late 1800s to early 1900s. I can't even imagine how it was acquired or why my mom would have something like that. I do know both parents did a lot of flea marketing after my dad's retirement. I have no idea how much it's worth but would love to know more about its history and value. More than anything, could this possibly be an artifact the Thai people would like to have back? Several people, including the jeweler, have urged me to follow up on this most ornate and unusual item that I call a silver flowerpot.
I was fishing around in my dad's attic after he died. He had been an antique dealer for years as well as a dentist. There were a few things left in his attic: clock parts, scouting stuff, paintings -- all his favorites. I found an old basket of seashells and wondered why an old oyster shell rated inclusion with some real beauties. But then I turned one over and found what appears to be a 17th- or early-18th-century quill drawing of a gentleman, with the blue blotch on the inside of the shell acting the part of his hair. It's a cartoon, if you will. It is clear the ink is ancient as I have seen and handled early documents and books with the same quality and patina of ink. Is this something they might have done a few miles away at an oyster house in Boston? Looks like something someone would do with your oyster to take home, only a couple of hundred years ago. I can't find anything similar anywhere. It's a real odd one, without a doubt.
Grandpa's Pocket Watch
Believe it or not, I may have inherited a legitimate 1872 model American-grade Waltham pocket watch. It was my Grandpa Roberts' watch. It doesn't work anymore, but it is outwardly near perfect (no broken face glass, just a couple of dings but nothing deforming). I'm not sure where to look for someone to get it functional again. I am not interested in selling it. It is more precious than money to me. I want it to work again so I can proudly carry it and remember Grandpa.
Carter Lake, Iowa
Folks Go Gaga for This Tapestry
I purchased a tapestry in North Wales in 1995 or so. After I brought it home, a friend suggested I contact the North Carolina State University textile department. I took it there and the folks went gaga over it. You have to see it to really understand. They suggested I have an air-free frame built for it, and on and on. The large tapestry takes up the entire area of a queen bed. The weight of it made the cost of having it framed prohibitive for me. It is a real find! I purchased it at a church that was being used as an antique market.
Jefferson, North Carolina
I found this chair out of a dream I had. I went to an estate sale in Orange, California, and in my dream the chair was in the garage. Sure enough, there it was for real, dusty and dirty. The leather was not in good shape and the back was missing. But I grabbed the chair and paid $102 for it. A man came up to me and said I was the smartest person he met today. He handed me a bag with the rest of the leather and hardware for the chair. The only thing that needs to be restored is the leather. I cleaned it up and I love this chair. Not sure what it is worth, just know that it's a Dante chair from the 14th to 18th century. It's also sometimes called a folding armchair or cross chair. I love my find and hope to take it to the show. I see very few online going for $2,000 to $3,000.
My grandmother was an antique dealer in California in the 1940s. She had a beautiful Dresden lamp that graced our home for decades. It was blue and white, and the base was about 18 inches tall. The lamp was quite simple but elegant, with a figure of Napoleon in his hat standing at the front. It had a glass globe, which I do not think was the match for it as the globe was more of an aqua cast. The globe also had gold filigree in a pattern around it. The legend in the family is that the lamp was in the movie "Gone with the Wind," and that it might have been in an early World's Fair. I have since learned that "Gone with the Wind" refers to a particular style of lamp used to decorate the film set, so the movie connection may not be accurate, as we fail to see our lamp in the film! My mother wanted her brother to have the lamp; I have the globe since my aunt agreed that the globe's color was wrong. However it is a beautiful globe! I just think it is such an interesting piece!
Original Robert Wood?
I saw a segment on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW about a Robert Wood painting, and the next day I went to a local Goodwill store and found a Robert Wood painting. I paid $2.99 for it, and I still have to have it appraised. I looked on the artist's Web site and the signature there is exactly the way it's signed on my painting. It's from 1956. I'm excited to find out if it is indeed an original.
San Antonio, Texas
He Sends His Congratulations
My cousin passed away this past October. His mother and father, who had to have been born at the turn of the century, received a typed congratulations card that was hand signed by the author Zane Grey, because they named my cousin Zane after him. Mr. Grey thanked them for the namesake. We are curious about the worth but certainly wouldn't want to depart from the card and letter.
I have a Chinese prayer rug that was given to me by an old cousin of my mother's. I had it in my home for several years with the children playing on it and the dogs and cats on it, too. The rug is oval, about four feet by two feet, hand-tied on the ends, wool, and flowered. I was going to throw it away because it was so dirty, but after a second glance called a shop in Portland, Oregon, where I lived.
When I described the rug they said to bring it in, which I did, and they asked me where I got it. I told them that my mother's cousin had received it from her sister who was a missionary in China or Tibet. I have several other items from this dear lady. They cleaned the rug and I was astonished at how beautiful it is. They offered me $350 for it, which I declined as people around me shook their heads. I told them it is a family heirloom so it isn't for sale.
My aunt passed away over 25 years ago and I just inherited her jewelry. One piece is a round, clear dome that houses a picture of President Kennedy and rotates around to reveal Martin Luther King. It's set in a silver base and has beautiful silver etching around the dome. I believe it to be a valuable piece. I also have a large silver-plated eagle with clear stone around it, and a second eagle that is gold plated with clear stone. I believe all three pieces are election related. The eagles are approximately three or four inches in length and are heavy. The fourth piece is an Indian arrowhead that has been made into a beautiful necklace. My aunt was Cherokee and that is what this piece represents.
My father's family is from Point Pelee in Canada and owned diamond mines. I heard my father tell stories about how his father's side of the family came from old money. Recently my father passed away and we found a violin that he never wanted to take out. It has markings, but I have not been able to find anything in my research to tell me if it's a fake. My father had many items that were handed down and his family was very musical. He also had an original 1954 Les Paul Gold Top with all the original parts, and yes, it works. When I had that guitar looked at I also told the appraiser about the violin, and he said that that could be the sleeper in my collection. I am so puzzled by this. I want to say the violin is an antique fake, but that has been hard to prove.
The Heirloom That Wasn't
My family are avid fans of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. We especially find the stories entertaining when a person discovers the price she was previously offered was a really lowball offer and her treasure is valued at hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more! When ROADSHOW was in Dallas and my mother found out we had tickets, she insisted my husband take her valuable "Kley" brass figurine to have it appraised. Years ago she was offered $700 for it by a dealer in Houston. Imagine her surprise when my husband told her the figurine was a commemorative piece worth only about $100. So much for the heirloom she thought my siblings and I would be fighting over some day!
Red Oak, Texas
An Unusual Jewel
I bought this stove at a fairgrounds auction quite a few years ago. The gentlemen could not tell me anything about the item. It is called "The Jewel" fireless stove and was made by the Manson Campbell Company in Detroit, Michigan. I have searched the Internet and many antique shops and no one seems to be able to tell me anything about this beauty.
My husband and I just received a piece of furniture that appears to have been in a fire. Overall the mahogany, four-drawer dresser only seems to have smoke damage and some missing hardware. When looking at the dresser we came across the following info: a logo for Johnson Furniture Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a stamp with the number 7440 on the back and the bottom of the drawers. I am not an antiques person, but feel this might be an antique. We did not want to do anything with it until I got some info. We would like to clean it up and use it, but if it is an antique I do not want to ruin the authentic look.
I was helping my mother-in-law clean her basement and came upon a framed magazine story. It's titled "Seeking Santa Claus" and was printed in the December 1876 issue of Harper's Weekly. It appears to be on parchment paper. It can be fun cleaning out basements and finding oldies.
For four generations my family has had a valuable scrapbook collection documenting famous world historical events and stories dating back to the 1700s. There are news clippings that are at least 100 years old about the burning of Chicago, the shooting of Martin Luther King, and many more. This collection has mind-blowing pictures and stories that will take you back in time. There are great stories of world-famous events that happened over 100 years ago, featuring many of our great presidents and famous crimes that were front-page news. These are original documents about these events and well preserved.
I went to the local Goodwill store and found a beautiful painting of a woman and her daughter standing on the bank of a lake with sailboats on it. It is signed "T. Moran" in the lower-left corner in dark maroon paint. I did not buy the painting until the next morning because that was half-off day. I was the first person in line and I was able to buy the painting for $25. It was not until I got it home did I notice the signature. I am very lucky that it was still there.
While metal detecting in New Hampshire on an old logging road, we found an item about an inch in diameter that was about 18 inches underground. The back of the item seems to be lead but the front is gold or brass or copper with a Star of David with a circle around it and what look like sun rays. There is some writing on the circle that seems to be Hebrew in nature. We are very excited about this item, but no one can tell us what it is or where it came from.
This is interesting but it isn't antiquing. It is an inheritance, of sorts. There is a painting we have had in my family for over 50 years. My mom bought it from a family friend who bought it from someone on the street in Paris during the war (at least that is the story). She paid $25.
As an artist and student of art, I always wanted the painting, and when my mother was making out her will she asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted that painting, real or not. She said, "That old thing?" and I now have it; however, getting it appraised and authenticated is something I haven't done yet, as my mother is still alive and I have siblings that definitely wouldn't care about the painting unless it was worth something.
I read up on the French painter Maurice Utrillo, and found to my amazement things that point to the painting's possible authenticity. I know Utrillo produced several thousand paintings and some are out there unverified. At least 10 years ago a dealer told me that a large oil painting of Paris by Utrillo could be worth $800,000. Mine is a bit smaller, but still large. It is gouache on board and shows Saint-Denis outside Paris. I was told the painting would have to be dated by a paint sample, but the price of an appraisal would be quite costly for me.
Santa Cruz, California
Home Is Where the Treasure Is
My 84-year-old mother has many rare wonders in her home. She loved to collect things. My father died 12 years ago and now she would like to clear out the house. I've found Depression glass she collected and I know of many other collections in her home. My father built the house in the 1960s. He was told that no other house had been there, but when laying the foundation he found gas and water pipes and an old foundation. Their house is among many old homes in North Plainfield. Just thought I would share.
North Plainfield, New Jersey
My great-uncle Charlie, who was born in 1886 and died in 1963, never married or had any children. He lived a pretty interesting life, and my family has been able to read about it because he kept a diary. Now, by "diary" I don't mean little books with little keys; I mean nearly 30-pound books that he created himself. My father eventually made cedar boxes to protect them in.
The diaries were handed down to my son when my mother passed away. They are truly a family treasure. Charlie was in World War II and kept his diary going throughout. He marched on the White House for veterans' benefits and wrote by candlelight while he camped outside. He wrote every day of his life — that alone makes these books very interesting — but he also collected baseball scores, stamps, news articles, and tickets and flyers from vaudeville shows. Charlie was also an artist with many drawings. He used brown paper bags and department store flyers for paper during the Depression years.
There are five of these thick, heavy books. Amazement does not begin to explain the response of everyone who I've shared these books with. When I was much younger I took one book to show my history teacher, and again — amazement!
I went to an auction with a friend 10 years ago and bough several items. One was a painting of beautiful yellow roses. The painting is simply signed "Blaine." It seemed no one wanted this large painting (it is 23 by 34) so I got it for $8. I just love and admire it. I decided to look up the artist and found it is probably the work of Paul Blaine Henrie. I still have no idea what it is worth, but I think it may be more than I gave for it. It has no markings except for "Blaine," which is how the artist signed his paintings before 1961. It's taken me 10 years to start researching, because I really don't want to sell it. But since I've been watching ROADSHOW my interest kind of got the best of me! It's priceless to me.
I purchased my violin at a little music store outside of Washington, D.C. I was 14 and the instrument was a birthday gift from my dad. I tried out a number of new violins, but they all sounded the same. I asked if they had any used ones. I tried one after another and, though they sounded nice, they just didn't have that indescribable something I was looking for. Finally, I had all but given up when this old violin caught my eye. It wasn't very pretty, its finish worn and nearly gone in some spots, but there was just something that drew me to it. This violin looked like it had been played a lot over the years; its wear was from use, not from neglect. As soon as I drew the bow across the first string I knew I had found my violin. It had a soul as deep and murky as Baltimore's Harbor. I imagined how many loving hands it had passed through since it was made over 200 years ago.
Civil War Quilt
I was asked to show a quilt at school that was handed down to me by my great-great-great grandmother. I began my lesson by talking about how you should know your family's history, because if you don't important facts might be lost forever. Well, when I unfolded my Civil War-era quilt made of fine silks and velvet, teachers from around the school started peering in and couldn't believe the exquisite condition and uniqueness of it. I have never had the quilt appraised, but many people asked me of its value. I spoke only of its historical value, not its monetary value. Maybe someday someone will tell me what its worth.
— Leeann M.
Growing up in Virginia, my grandmother Oma always had beautiful linens on her Thanksgiving table. She was born into a Lutheran family in 1919 in Windecken, Germany, a very small farming village. It was customary for young teenage girls to embroider their initials, in her case "A.D.", on the corner of napkins and tablecloths in preparation for their future marriage. These linens stitched in the early 1930s were given to me as a housewarming gift this year. As I lovingly washed and ironed them, I had to ask my grandmother why one of the tablecloths had the initials "P.M." on it. To whom did it belong and why did Oma have it all these years? "Oh, that's Paula's," she said. It was then that I heard the story of the M. family in Windecken. They were Jewish and having difficulty getting enough staple goods due to Nazi restrictions. Oma's mother, my great-grandmother, would sneak the family milk and eggs in the dead of night. As thanks, Mrs. M. gave her daughter Paula's gorgeous tablecloth away. 70 years later I was determined to find Paula's descendants, and that I did. Starting with a history of the Jews from Windecken, I learned that Paula's sons, Alfred and Julius, had escaped to South Africa. Using online resources, I found Julius's grave marker in Johannesburg, and the parks department gave me the address of his wife. I called her and was able to get the number of her brother-in-law Alfred's son, Leon. I called him immediately and when I told him I had his grandmother's tablecloth, he almost cried out for joy and explained, "Today is my birthday. This is the best gift I can imagine." I mailed the tablecloth to South Africa soon thereafter. It is now home.
I own a diamond brooch that's approximately 60 years old and is an amazing piece of jewelry. It is about 3 inches tall and two inches wide, and comes from England. It has its own special tool that transforms the brooch into various pieces. The brooch can be split in half and worn on the shoulders, as was once the style. Additionally, the brooch comes with a set of rubies, sapphires, and pearls that can be mounted in the center of the pin using the special tool. I believe it is very valuable -- a very brilliant and special piece of jewelry.
Folk Art Find
Twenty years ago my wife bought what she thought was an old wooden toolbox at an estate auction at an old farm near Philadelphia. She only paid $50.00 for it. She brought it home and I scraped off the top layers of paint to find 18th-century fraktur decorations all over the box, like those found in Pennsylvania German homes. It has the original strap, hand-forged hinges, and a till inside. I believe it is a bible box or small dowry chest. We have it displayed in our home now.
Saved from Demolition
We found an old, run-down building where a fellow was trying to sell antiques. He was having a difficult time with his failing health so he decided to sell, and we became the owners of everything inside. We have stumbled upon many treasures there, and we are continually discovering things that we cannot throw away. We are on a quest to find out of the worth of many of these items. The Internet is certainly helpful, but sometimes we cannot find the answers. We have paintings that are signed and dated from 1671. Shortly after all this happened the antique store was condemned and demolished. Certainly it was meant for us to acquire these things but for what reason? Hopefully we will find out someday. We love watching your show because it gives us reason to believe that there will be a treasure in our junk.
Gray Pay Station Telephone
I have had a very rare antique pay phone for most of my life, without ever having any idea how rare it was until a few days ago. I had been looking for years for a similar one just to see what it was worth, but couldn't find one. Recently, I found a Web site with the e-mail addresses of some phone collectors. I contacted them and was told that I do indeed have a very rare find! It's a family heirloom and has been in my family for at least 80 years or more. The phone itself has a patent date of 1904, so it is at least a century old.
In 1959 John F. Kennedy visited my hometown of Crowley, Louisiana. A local men's store created a necktie for that occasion. It was a thin black tie with JFK's profile surrounded by kicking donkeys. Years later his brother Edward would marry Victoria Reggie, a woman from Crowley. The tie was handed down to me from my father at his death. I have never seen another one like it.
Los Angeles, California
Tea for Two
After years of watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, I saw that it was finally coming to Dallas, and so for Father's Day I procured tickets for my husband. He was thrilled! As soon as people found out we were going, however, it seems everybody had a family heirloom they suggested we take. We narrowed the selection down to a small brass figurine that belongs to my mother and a lovely little teapot that belongs to my stepmother.
On the day we went to pick up the teapot, it was sitting on the kitchen table with all the paperwork my stepmother had accumulated regarding it: a handwritten description from her grandmother (to whom it originally belonged); a picture from a catalog of a teapot that looked just like it; and an appraisal from 1982 stating that if the teapot was authentic its value was between $25,000 and $30,000. My husband and I freaked! Here was a potentially very valuable teapot that had come down through my stepmother's family and she was willing to just hand it over to us to take to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW! We respectfully declined. No way we could risk transporting such a delicate antique. Next time ANTIQUES ROADSHOW comes to Dallas, I will get tickets for my stepmother to bring it!
Red Oak, Texas
Signed by The Master of Suspense
My father sat next to Alfred Hitchcock on a plane in the 1960s and asked the director to sign his business card. My father's card has his own information on one side, and Mr. Hitchcock's signature on the back. The "A" in the signature is in the shape of Mr. Hitchcock's head, similar to the shape he would step into in the opening of his TV show. It's done in ink pen and very cool! My father had the card framed in glass and open to both sides. It had been thrown around in drawers for years and I felt it needed to be preserved. I have never heard of an Alfred Hitchcock signature like this.
A Surprise from Dad's Past
My father died years ago and my brother, who lived closest to him, kept most of his personal effects. He was cleaning out after a yard sale and gave me some old letters, an address book, voter registration receipts from the 1930s and a green-colored card dated 1935 with the words "Olympic Fields, Formerly Elysia" and silhouettes of unclothed people sketched on it. Upon viewing the silhouette of a topless woman, I thought, "Oh my, it's a nudist colony?" So I searched online for "Olympic Fields, Formerly Elysia" and it turns out there were not one but two films made featuring the members of a nudist colony by that name. My dad would have been 22 years old at the time of membership (long before I was born). There's a picture of some members at the gate of the colony for sale on eBay. This was considered a health thing in those days and improper behavior was allegedly prohibited. I am hoping that this rare bit of ephemera will fetch a pretty price.
Santa Monica, CA
The One-Dollar Victrola
My husband was working for a woman and saw an old Victrola with a wooden horn stored in her basement on the dirt floor! Of course it had condition issues, but he asked if she would sell it and she said she would take a dollar. Done deal. He took it to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in Chattanooga, Tennessee in July 2008 and it was appraised for $800 to $1,200. A local collector purchased it from my husband for $900 in spite of the condition. He was happy, we were happy. We had a wonderful time at ROADSHOW and will certainly go again if we are lucky enough to get tickets.
Royal Bayreuth Vase
I was antiquing in western Massachusetts and found a small shop in the country. I spotted a vase that caught my eye immediately. It featured a landscape with a castle, a river and a full moon. It was porcelain and marked Royal Bayreuth in blue on the bottom. The seller had bought it in New York and kept it for nine years. She had marked it down to $199. I left the shop and went to the Brimfield Antique Show, where I spotted an identical vase on a table of Limoges vases. It was a Royal Bayreuth with the same marking on the bottom. It was selling for $500 and that was the least expensive item on the table. I raced back to the other town and bought the vase. I have since moved to California. While in Massachusetts I had the vase appraised for about $300. I think it's worth more because of the landscape, which is somewhat unusual for Royal Bayreuth. An appraiser in California told me the vase couldn't be very old because there was a small locomotive train within the landscape! He said the vase had to be from after the 1920s because of the train. Well I know there were trains in Europe way before that time!
My best friend and I go "yard sailing" every weekend. At one sale, I spied from quite a distance a white chair. It was set to the side, so I thought it had been sold. I walked over and saw that it was a Berbice chair (also called a planter's or plantation chair), although it did not have the swing-out arms that the sitter (often the plantation owner) would use as a footrest. I asked if it was sold, and was told that it wasn't very good because you couldn't lean back in it, and so the price was $1. However, the cane in it was perfect, and the only repair needed was two new wooden dowels to stabilize the arms. The chair was painted white, but was still a steal...and yes, I took it home! I've had my nose stuck in antiques books and magazines for years, and it always pays off!
I was at a church rummage sale, looking for costume jewelry and anything else that caught my eye. The latter runs the gamut from anything to everything. It was late in the day so the real dealers had already been through. I found some decent rings, and while I was at it I found a funny-looking square rock with a hole in it. It looked like some kid had scratched his initials into the side at some point, and it had concentric circles carved into the top. I almost put it back twice, but for some reason hung onto it. They wanted a whopping $2 for the rock, and being a classic pack rat's pack rat, I took it home. Some research turned up what it is: the ugly lump is a late 18th-century hand-carved soapstone inkwell from New England; these were apparently carved in several locations so the exact place is hard to pin down. In the words of the author of a book on inkwells, it's "rather rare." It's not so ugly anymore.
If Antiques Could Talk
If tables and chairs could talk just how much would we hear? I have a whole set that I think is about 100 years old: six chairs, a table with slide-out leaves, and a buffet to match. I bought it from a family that had to clear out their mother's house in order to sell it. The daughter said I could buy the set if I promised not to split it up. Of course I bought it and have kept it in good condition. I have never refinished it, and all the rungs are in very good shape as are the backs and legs. I have owned it for 24 years now. If chairs and tables could talk it would be the story of a lifetime.
Just Say No
When a friend was downsizing prior to moving into a smaller house, he offered my husband an old pump organ for free. The wood appeared to be beautiful cherry, but the thing was not in very good working condition. My husband took it anyway. After tinkering with the internals, he got it in working condition, lemon oiled the cabinet to a fare-thee-well, then tried to sell it. Turns out, no one today is interested in having this particular parlor piece, so now it occupies a prominent place in our basement storage area. Lesson learned: just because something old is given to you doesn't make it worth your while to cart it home.
— Amy W.
When I was 16 years old I followed a suggestion from 16 Magazine called "How to Get a Letter from Your Favorite Star." Beatles fan that I was, I thought I'd go through the "back door," so to speak, and wrote Maureen Starkey, Ringo Starr's wife. She wrote to me twice: the first time I received a handwritten letter, the second time an autographed picture that was a postcard-sized, black-and-white glossy. Though I'm not sure if the autographs are authentic, the story is great and true and I do feel the letter is genuine. I'm still a Beatles fan today.
— Angela M.
I'll Take It
My husband hauls scrap metal for a living. A man stopped him one day and asked if he wanted some old metal. My husband said, "Yes, I'll take it." The man was cleaning out a storage unit and it was full of boxes and other stuff. My husband kept one box that had brass and scrap metal, and in the bottom was a Radio Telegraph Transmitting Key made by Theodore R. McElroy. We have tried looking it up to find out when it was made and are having no luck. It is different than the pictures we are finding. Maybe one day we will find out. Always remember you never know what you will find when not looking for it.
— Laura H.
A Friend from the Past
I was at an auction in Los Angeles, California in the late 1970s and purchased a statue of W.C. Fields. I love W.C. and used to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch his old movies. As I saw the unusual items being auctioned (like a section of wrought-iron fence from a movie star's home), I noticed a large, ugly-looking, doll-like object being carried to the stage in a man's outstretched arms. I immediately said to my aunt "My gosh, I can't believe some of the junk being auctioned off; do they think anyone will buy that?" However, as I was finishing my sentence, I heard the auctioneer ask how much would be offered for this statue of W.C. Fields! When I heard W.C., I didn't care what it was. I finished my sentence in a loud voice: "5.00." No one bid against me and I became (and still am) the proud owner of this W.C. memorabilia.
— Nadine S.
Tripping over Treasure
My husband was playing in the forest somewhere in Germany when he was a young teenager. As he started to run, he tripped over something. He looked down to see what he had tripped over and noticed some kind of pottery sticking out of the ground. So Tom (my future husband) and his friends started digging. After lots of work they extracted a jug. We think it is a Bellarmine jug from 1676!
— Jo Ann S.
Diary of War
My mother, who is passed now, loved books, so she went to this moving sale and bought a box. In this box was one book that grabbed my heart, because to read it was to go back in time; it was like you were there. I've kept the book in the shape it was in when I received it. Every few years I bring it out with my white gloves and read it. It is wonderful, full of names, phone numbers, ranks, and everywhere the writer went. It is amazing how the writer can bring you back to the very spot he stood in and tell things about the war that were probably classified.
— Linda S.
Antique Love Seat
My Aunt Ree died several years ago at the age of 85. When she was still in her teens, she came home one day with an old and dirty love seat that she had transported on the back of a horse. Although I don't know what she paid for it, I do know her family was upset that she had paid an outrageous amount. She cleaned the piece up, recovered it and used it in her living room, where it remained until she died. I now have that love seat to remind me how much Aunt Ree loved antiques!
— Sue H.
Letter from a Former First Lady
This is the story of a box that was fixing to be dumped in a dumpster. I, being the curious one that I am, could never throw anything away like my brothers do. To make a long story short, as I sifted through this box, I found a letter from Jacqueline Kennedy to my grandmother. It was a poignant letter trimmed in black thanking my grandmother for her generous contributions to the JFK Presidential Library. The letter was dated 1964, when I was only 3 years old. It was in pristine condition. The moral to the story is never get in a hurry to throw out old boxes; you never know what may be hidden in them.
— Leeann M.
I was born and raised on a farm. 32 years later I left my wife and children for a year and rented a house in a town 150 miles away while I went back to school to pursue a new career as an electrical line worker. I rented from a wonderful couple and we gained respect for each other. They were antique collectors. One day the husband took me inside their garage and asked me to help him get an item down off the ceiling. Here it was – a wooden, four-fingered grain cradle from the 1860s and 1870s! These are so hard to find and this one was in just wonderful and fantastic condition. We got it down and he told me to take it before I left to go back to my family! Yes, they gave me this piece of rich history and it will forever be in my family's heart as the husband has passed away and his wife is now 77 years of age. The wife and I remain in constant contact and will continue to be as she asks about the grain cradle they gave our family.
— Randy A.
A Souvenir from a Watchman's Rounds
This story begins with a trip to visit my grandfather. It was early in the evening when I arrived, and I was upset to find him in a delirious state. His blood pressure was high, his oxygen levels were very low and he was running a temperature of 103 degrees. I carefully explained to my disabled uncle that his dad needed to go to the hospital and we should call for an ambulance. My uncle Jim, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and I spent the night in the emergency room. When we saw our sedated grandfather in bed we felt scared for his health. Early the next day, we returned home to my grandfather's house and went to bed. When Jim and I woke up I cooked him dinner, cleaned up, and organized things around the house. While straightening up the bathroom, I noticed a round object in the back of the linen closet under an inch of dust. After I pulled it out and dusted it off, I was surprised to see a clock. An "Underwriter's Laboratories Time Detector" to be exact. This thing is in perfect condition; there is even the last paper record still inside the clock. The key-chain ornament reads "Chicago Watchclock Corporation 1526 S. Wabash Ave. Chicago Ill." This watchclock is an interesting piece of nostalgia. I'm keeping my thoughts hopeful that my grandfather may get better. But at the young age of 84, congestive heart failure is a scary problem. I'm returning tomorrow to tell him about my find.
— Ryan B.
Searching for an Answer
My husband inherited a beautiful old violin and was intrigued by the "Klotz" name and 1794 date inscribed inside. Since it had come through his uncle's family to his father and then to him, he was convinced it was a genuine Josef Klotz. I researched the Klotz family of violinmakers online and wasn't so sure. It was a book-back violin (made from two pieces) and all the Klotz violins I found pictures of had solid backs. Secondly, the wood was matchstick-style maple and the finish was a rich orangey-red that was hardly scuffed or worn at all. It certainly seemed more contemporary that the 1700s in my non-professional opinion! When ANTIQUES ROADSHOW was in Dallas recently, I procured tickets for my husband. The violin debate would be settled once and for all. My husband called me from the show. "Well," he said, "the violin isn't a Josef Klotz. It's early 19th century like you suspected." Feeling vindicated after all my hours of research, I asked, "What gave it away -- the book-back or the wood?" "The neck," he replied. "The appraiser took one look at it and explained that high-end violins don't have any varnish on the necks." "Well, I never saw that coming," I replied, "so I guess I can't tell you 'I told you so!'"
— Stephanie B.
Red Oak, Texas
A Gift from Iceland
My dad passed seven years ago. I was helping my mom go through his stuff when I saw a kayak figure that I always remembered sitting on top of his chest of drawers. I knew it was old, handmade, and meant a lot to my dad. Well, I asked my mom about it and she told me the story behind it. While my dad was in the Coast Guard in the 1940s his ship went to Reykjavik, Iceland. There, he talked with locals and one day my dad gave one local a pack of cigarettes. The man was thrilled. The next day he came back with a gift for my dad. It was a hand-carved whalebone kayak with a figure and paddles. My mom told me the man gave this gift because he was so happy and grateful. We think it has either whale skin or seal skin covering it. You can also see the hand stitching. The next day the same man came back again to thank my dad. My dad gave him a chocolate bar. "For your wife," he said, and the man smiled so much. My dad always remembered him and the bond they had created. I am now trying to find out how much this figure is worth. I know no amount of money could ever replace the memories of its origins, but my dad is gone and the memories will always be with us.
— Liane M.
Ring of Memories
Many years ago, my great-grandfather was an orphan on the streets of New Orleans, where he sold candy to survive. At some point, he was given a lady's ring, which he kept his whole life. The ring has been passed down to the women in our family (his daughter, who was my grandmother, then to my mother). I am the fourth generation to have the ring that we know of. My great-grandfather's personal history is a mystery to us, since he only could remember being a tiny child on the streets, struggling to survive. We do not know how he came to have the ring. It is an oval brownish/golden stone with a small, carved gold flower in the middle. It is in a solid-gold solitaire setting and the stone is about 6 to 8 millimeters in size. The center of the flower is a tiny diamond. Since my great-grandfather was orphaned and had no family, we don't know if it had belonged to his mother, a sister, or if someone gave it to him out of sympathy. The ring had one broken prong on it and my mother had it reset in a gold setting (we have the original setting) about two years ago. She passed away from leukemia last year, and just prior to that she gave me the ring. I had seen a ring exactly like this in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan as a child during a family vacation. My mother was ecstatic at seeing "a ring just like Papa's!" I cannot find a jeweler who can tell me what kind of stone it is, but I know the ring is very old. I have looked all over the Internet for information on it, to no avail. The only ring I ever saw like mine was in the museum's jewelry case. I am now 56. I love the story of my great-grandfather having the ring as a poor child as much as I love the ring, because it meant so much to the women in the family who loved him so dearly. Somehow, later in life, he traveled from New Orleans to the Carolinas, and then to work and prosper in the old mills in south Mississippi, where our family resides today. Everyone who knew my great-grandfather dearly loved him because of his integrity, gentle nature, and kindness toward others – which was surely rooted deeply in his difficult beginnings. I loved the ring as a child, but love it more today and cherish the loving memories surrounding it. It will go to my daughter later and then to my granddaughter and on and on, as God allows.
— Brenda F.
An Unexpected Heirloom
Several years ago, my daughter Somer gave me a complete set of Cathay dinnerware she picked up at an estate sale. She thought it was at least good enough to use for everyday dishes. I now own a complete service for eight including serving platters, sugar bowl with lid, creamer, casserole dish (also with lid), salt and pepper shakers, and not just the cups and saucers, but also the coffee mugs. Unlike my daughter, I immediately fell in love with this dinnerware — not only for the unique pattern, but also for the look. I have been using this dinnerware indiscriminately. At least I was, until finding out the dinner plates for the Monmouth stoneware my mother just bought at an estate sale are worth $35 apiece! Of course I did some searching on the Internet to find out if my daughter was as astute a shopper when she bought my dishes, and discovered the Cathay dinner plates sell for $13.99 each. The sugar bowl without the lid sells for $18.99 and the chop plate sells for $33.99. I figure I've got well over $500 worth of stoneware. My family may not have any other heirlooms of particular value, but we have some darn nice dishes! Maybe you have a set you're using for everyday dishes that you might want to set aside for someone to inherit someday.
Red Oak, Texas
The Past Resurfaced
Some years ago I rented a location in downtown San Antonio that had not been occupied for about 60 years. During cleanup, I found an old box with a bunch of metal and wooden objects that had obviously been used for some sort of printing process. I refrained from throwing them away and some years later examined them. I learned that they were letterpress cuts that had been used for advertising for the dress shop that occupied the space in the 1920s. The largest is 19 inches long and most of them are about 6 inches by 2 inches. The problem I have is that I have never found cuts of a similar size and the numerous enquiries I have sent out have yielded nothing. I watch eBay frequently and the only things I've noticed are dingbats. There are two dingbats in this "collection," but they are related to the rest. One of the cuts has a copyright date of 1928. I would imagine the shop failed during the depression and the cuts didn't suffer the fate of most of this sort of ephemera of the era by being consumed in the scrap metal drives of WWII.
San Antonio, Texas
I met a guy who knew my sister and knew I collected antiques. He was getting thrown out of the house he lived in all his life. He asked me if I wanted to buy any of his things, as he had to be out in the morning and had nowhere to go. I went to his house, which was large and totally a mess. It seemed an auction house had been there and took all the furniture and paintings, etc. I felt bad for him and gave him $100 and said I would root around. He left to go to the racetrack. After hours of looking, I found 3 suitcases of fine costume jewelry, a ton of 1950s and 1960s sports memorabilia, but in the attic, a turtle-back trunk. Dry rotted and smelling of mothballs, I tossed it out of my way and it rattled. There were 114 pieces of Steiff sterling flatware and 100 other pieces including some 16th- and 17th-century English sterling! I never saw him again or I would have gladly rewarded him.
A Doll in Times of Sacrifice
I was born during World War II in Germany. My birthday is November 29. In 1945 as the war ended my mom wanted to give me a doll for my birthday and also make that my Christmas present. There were no stores to buy a doll due to the bombings. There was also no money to buy one. She was told by someone there was a family that was hungry and needed food and they had a doll they where willing to give up for some food. So my mom got the doll for me as a birthday and Christmas gift combined using the food rationing stamps given at that time for purchasing food. She sacrificed the stamps for the doll and I received the doll as my gift. She knitted an outfit for it and I dressed it up at Christmas.
In January she took my doll and put it up and told me I would get it back at my next birthday and Christmas. That was until I got married at 16 in 1956. She let me bring my doll with me to America. As I had my children I dressed up my doll with their baby clothes and I could not let them ever play with the doll. My mom had reminded me all the years I had it that they had to go hungry to get me that doll and to not let any of my children play with it in order to prevent it from breaking. There is no telling how old the doll was when my mom got it for me.
San Antonio, Texas
Folk Art Family History
While in Macon, Georgia, for the world famous Cherry Blossom Festival my husband and I were browsing in an antiques store. We spotted an iron cutout figure which the clerk identified as "from up North." The price was $55, which my husband said was too much. I tried to change his mind, but he wouldn't budge. I had an appointment the next day and stopped in to buy the figure. The reason I wanted the figure is that it was actually made by my father-in-law. During his earlier years my father-in-law had made these cutouts to help support his large family. When compared to the cutout at my brother-in-law's house, ours is identical. It was not, however, "from up North." It was made in Macon, Georgia, in the late 1960s and it is priceless.
— H. M.
Bottom of the Box
At an estate auction, in a 10-ream cardboard box filled with an attic and basement mish-mash of items, there was a glass canning jar rusted shut. Inside were some buttons, spools of thread, some nails, tacks, and a tightly wadded up paper bag with several rubber bands wrapped around. I tried, but could not loosen the lid. I had to see what was in the paper wad. Twenty minutes and a $2 bid later it was time to find out. Inside the bag were five Roosevelt for President pins, six Win with Wilkie pins, and six Walter Johnson (pitcher of the Ghost ball) for Congress pins. My love of the box lots will never die!
Rocky Ridge, Maryland
Ivy Ceramic Basket
Years ago while antiquing at a flea market in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, I had only walked a few steps when my eyes spotted a white ceramic basket vase. Green ivy and a green handle to simulate a vine kicked my brain in gear — I knew I had seen this before. The price was $12, so I grabbed it. Upon returning home I phoned my father, who had antiques books for Hull, Roseville, and McCoy. After describing it to him we realized it was from the "Tuscany" collection of Hull. The "Moon Basket" made in 1959, described and pictured in a Hull collectors book published in 1992, purchased in mint condition in 1992 listed for $125. Fifteen years later, still in mint condition, I would say my $12 was put to good use! One person's junk can absolutely be a treasure! I just wish I really knew what it is worth now, even though to me it is priceless!!
Lebanon Junction, Kentucky
My mother gave me her found treasure as a young girl. While riding her pony over 74 years ago she stopped to give her pony, Star, a rest. She told me she was kicking around old oyster shells in an old clay pit and found a token medallion. I have researched and read many articles about Florida Indians and early missions in Florida. I believe this to be a token given by very early missionaries in the teachings of Christianity to the Indians. It appears to be made of bronze and has a male Indian warrior with a tomahawk on one side and an Indian woman with a child in a papoose on the other side. I think it was symbolic of the relationship of man and woman in marriage. The man is the provider and the woman is the caregiver of children. After much research I believe it came from shell mounds on the east coast of Florida. There were missionaries near St. Augustine.
Howey in the Hills, Florida
A Rare Find for a Card Collector
I have been collecting baseball cards for about 25 years now and I was in an antiques shop in the Pacific Northwest when in a small box I noticed what looked like a baseball card tucked under some stuff. So, I bought this card and it was a 1909 baseball card. A rare find for a card collector, I thought. I took it to my father and showed him and he agreed with me. It looks like Honus Wagner. With all the hype about how much it is worth, I now keep it in a bank vault until I can get it authenticated. Collecting has been so much fun and never have I been so excited to be collecting baseball cards.
Castle Rock, Washington
On The Hunt
I like to go to antiques shops to search for unusual and old books about dogs. I love the "hunt" and I love a good deal. About 10 years ago I was in this upscale type of antiques shop not really finding anything that interesting. I was about to give up when I spotted this book that was a true story about two of King Charles Spaniel dogs whose nurse owner dressed them up and took them to the Mayo Clinic hospitals to entertain patients and children. It was a vintage 40s book in good condition. I paid $25. It was more than I wanted to pay, but I bought it anyways. On the way home I looked it over more thoroughly and noticed this scribbled-looking signature on the front page. I thought it looked like a child's type of writing. I then started reading the preface. I was shocked to find that Helen Keller had written it. Entitled "Tribute to a Dog," the tribute was nice as Helen Keller knew the importance of dogs and in her world she depended upon them. Well anyways, at the end of her tribute, she signed it in print. I looked at that signature and turned the page back to the scribbled name I saw in the front of the book. It was the same signature! Ms. Keller's signature is not that uncommon, but it is very uncommon in books. I kept the book for a while and then sold it to a collector who said that she had that breed of dog and had a blind person in her family. You never know what you'll find in the "hunt." It was one of my favorite discoveries.
Several years ago my mother talked me into taking my great-grandmother's Hoosier cabinet. Since we were remodeling our kitchen at the time, it really intrigued me to find out what life was like when the Hoosier was "state of the art" in kitchen convenience. I asked my grandmother if she knew when her mother bought it. She said she bought it in June 1933 (the month she graduated from high school) at the estate sale of another family member. So I found some Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens magazines from that time and set about re-creating the kitchen. I researched through eBay and found an advertisement with the exact stencils that matched my Hoosier. We found most of the original hardware and replaced the rest with originals. With a little paint and carpentry, the cabinet was restored as a display cabinet.
My family has come up with many items that were original to the Hoosier and it has become the theme for my collection. I buy only things actually dated 1933 or which magazine ads and cook book photos in my collection date to that year. Naturally, I have more collectables than can be nicely displayed at one time, so I enjoy exchanging things by season. My Hoosier is in the corner of the dining room and it is a grand presence in our home. I have learned so much about Depression Era life through my researching and collecting. As a theme, it affords me a wide range of interesting items. I have collected magazines, cookbooks, food containers, canisters, utensils, and graniteware, displaying it all in the Hoosier. It has become a historic time capsule as well as a family heirloom and a glimpse of history that I can enjoy every day.
Jamestown, New York
We landed in Deming, New Mexico, and liked it and bought a place there. I went to a little second hand store and was looking for rare fiddles when I spotted what appeared to be an old Stradivarius Hellier made about 350 years ago. I talked the man down to $125 and purchased it. I looked in my best source book and it showed some with the exact same purfling, striations, and markings on the flamed back. And the tone is superb. The finish looks old and weathered. If it is not a Stradivarius, it is a very convincing replica. I call it my Hellier or at least my Strad. Markings on it are sparse. It has three neat letters inside: "E.R.S." Could this mean Exact Replica Stradivarius? Let me be wrong about that!
Deming, New Mexico
Right Under My Nose
When my dear friend died, her mother asked me to make sure that I kept her bench rather than sell or donate it. She indicated that it had some value. I put it in my living room and didn't give it much thought after that. When a friend who is knowledgeable about antiques visited, I asked her to look at it and she said it was not hand made and probably wasn't worth anything. About seven years later my friend finally decided to turn the bench over and look at it and found a label saying "Stickley." She also found a hand made nail. With these intriguing clues we researched online and believe it was made by Charles Stickley in New York!
A few years back, a show was done in Austin and in it were little dolls portraying scenes. They were doing different things (some playing poker etc.). My grandmother who is still alive — she's 90 years old — and her mother made those dolls to get money for sugar during the war when she lived in Homer, Louisiana. I believe they were valued at around $10,000. We couldn't believe that something she had made to make cakes were worth so much money. We still have some in the family.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Abe Lincoln's "Bed Quilt"
Years ago my father obtained a land survey company, Greeley-Howard-Norlin, in the Chicago area. I, as a very young man, saw a copy of a drawing of the original Fort Dearborn prior to Chicago becoming a city, which was in the files of the company. A few years ago I recalled the moment and started to look for this drawing. The files were in disarray and stored in a warehouse of approximately 4,000 square feet, which made it difficult to find the Fort Dearborn drawing. However, I came across an exhibit drawing, which later proved to be the exhibit used in a court case against Illinois Central Railroad. The exhibit was prepared by Greeley-Howard-Norlin. Abe Lincoln, then a lawyer, referred to the drawing as the "Bed Quilt" in his response in court. I have yet to find an appraiser to set a value on the exhibit. Several offers have been made, but not enough for me to part with it.
Antique Billiards Table
I work for K and E Moving in Bellingham, Washington. One day while we were on a move a woman asked if I knew anyone who wanted a pool table. It was the woman's grandfather's, but they were tired of moving it from house to house. I said I would take it and see if I could find someone. It was very heavy and when I unwrapped the table I was blown away at the beauty of it. It came with lights, cues, balls, books, and even papers authenticating its originality. I looked it up online and found out it was a Geo. Wright & Co. billiard table from London. They were patentees and manufacturers of the Neoteric billiard and dining table combined. I found some quote where someone was selling a similar table for $3,500.
Amelia Earhart Find
While rummaging through boxes of books in the front yard of an estate sale, I happened to see The Fun Of It and remembered it was written by Amelia Earhart. Next to it was We by Charles Lindbergh. I bought both with other books for $2 each. Later that evening I began looking through the books and noticed that Earhart's book had something taped to the inside title page. It appears that the book owner had cut out the printed author's name and taped in its place an actual autograph of Amelia's. I have not been able to spend the time to authenticate it, but it's in ink and appears to match examples of her signature on noted sites. I love estate sales!
Jessie Arms Botke Painting
I bought a painting from the Goodwill, of all places. I just fell in love with it. The piece is entitled "Tropical Pool" and the artist is named Jessie Arms Botke. There was a guy looking at it just as I walked up. He told me that he would have purchased it, but he had so many other works of art at home that he could not afford to purchase another one. He was just out looking. I examined it for a long time, left it, went back, and finally decided to get it. I paid $20 for it. After I got it home I noticed on the back was a label that read "Reofect Painting" (I can't find anything on the internet about this company) and then went on to describe the piece as though it had been part of a lot. Well, I thought nothing of it and it's been hanging on my wall over my fireplace (it looks lovely up there, too!) ever since. So, I guess what I am saying is purchase what YOU like, not what it's worth.
Clackamas County, Oregon
That Does Compute
I was at a local flea market just looking for something to catch my eye, when I happened upon a stack of old Popular Electronics magazines. Looking through the stack, I came across the January, 1975 issue with the headline "The World's First Minicomputer Kit to Rival Commercial Models ... Altair 8800." I remembered hearing about this back in the 70s and I thought that this might be something. So, I asked the vender how much and she said 50 cents. What the heck, I bought it. A little checking that night on the Internet and I found copies selling for $200 or more. 40,000% profit, not bad.
Alaskan Moose Hide
My husband's uncle, Jess Myers, helped with a cattle drive from Valdez to Fairbanks, Alaska, in the early 1900s. While in Fairbanks he was a barber and was paid in different ways. One payment was a moose hide that has a very beautiful moonlight scene of a moose and an old broken cabin in the snow all burned in by hot iron rods. The date on the left hand corner is 1914 and says "Reclamation" Fairbanks, Alaska. We found only a half hide in a museum in Fairbanks while on a trip in the 1980s. The curator said there were three artists in Alaska that did this type of work for a living at that time. This artist is Timme. It is truly a beautiful and well-done work of art.
A Complete Collection
I have a friend who has been collecting Nevil Shute hardcover books for many years. She needed only one more to complete her collection and I had been on the look-out. Well, I was at an antiques yard sale and rummaged through a musty box of miscellaneous magazines and books. Aha! I thought I recognized a title, yup, Nevil Shute. I asked, "How much?" She answered, "Oh, just take it. It's too musty, the library doesn't even want them." The book was worth at least $100 according to my research. My friend was thrilled to complete her collection. It had been published once in England and once in the United States.
During the Springfield, Ohio, Flea Market one year, I walked all day, but saw nothing that I truly found fascinating. Just as I was about to leave, I passed one more booth with old books and quilts. A set of what looked like diaries caught my eye, and I picked one up and began to read. The history of a well-to-do family in Virginia, it read as a record of who came to visit on Sundays, births and deaths, and like a story, each day recorded for five years. The price was $1 for the set, so I bought them. When I returned home and began to settle in for a good read, I realized the diaries chronicled events from 1939 to 1943. Curious, I began to look for certain dates in history and landed on December 7th, Sunday, 1941. The entry read "Japanese attacks Hawaii and declares war with U.S. and Britain." Then, on Thursday, December 11th, 1941, "Declaration of war by Germany and Italy on U.S.A. 12:30 Declaration of war by President against Germany and Italy." I was flabbergasted. She recorded every speech, every boat that was sunk, and continued with her daily activities list. From 1940 to 1943 this wonderful woman had made 370 blankets to distribute to U.S. soldiers through the Salvation Army and Red Cross, lost her son, and buried many friends and relatives. Her last entry simply says "end of 1943." This diary is priceless to me and I only wish her further writings had been found.
Lebanon Junction, Kentucky
Wedding Gift Inkwells
My husband's grandfather worked from the age of 11 in a glass house in Millville, New Jersey. When he was about to be wed, his co-workers fashioned two beautiful inkwells as a wedding gift for his bride. I understand these items were called "end-of-the-day" products. Several years ago these magnificent inkwells were passed down through the family to my husband. Our daughter recently visited the Smithsonian Institution and saw the same inkwells on display in the glass section! They are over 100 years old and I think of these gentle grandparents every time I look at their wedding gift.
W.T. Richards Watercolor
I am 85 years old and an incurable collector. When I lived in New York, I'd go antiquing on 6th Avenue and 26th Street at an open-air flea market. One Sunday, I bought a little watercolor of three trees along a river with schooners in the background. It was signed and dated, W. T. Richards 1870. I looked up his name and found out that he was one of the great Hudson River School artists and 1870 was his best year. I contacted a curator at the Brooklyn Museum and she came to see it at my home. She said it was authentic and a good find. When I first brought it home and told my wife I paid $120 for it she blew her stack, but when I sold it at auction for $4,200 she forgave me.
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
A Pleasant Surprise
About 25 years ago we bought an old armoire at a local Cocoa Village used furniture store for about $700. It needed a carving repair and a tassel door handle. We found an old furniture repairer in Melbourne, an old, old man himself. He told us the piece was called a triple wardrobe, was English, and dated from about 1870, probably early art modern. He said the wardrobe came apart. We hadn't known that. He lifted off the top. We lifted out the two boxes after unscrewing them and lifted them off the rack with legs. He repaired the carving and told us how to get a new tassel handle made from the existing one. It's been a conversation piece in our living room ever since.
Winnie The Pooh Cells
Back in 1982, I found two Winnie the Pooh film cells from the original Winnie the Pooh Disney production in a thrift store. I paid $8 for the pair. Both are from the dream sequence "Heffalumps and Woozles." One is a double cell. The front one shows Pooh in his nightshirt and the back one has the two jack-in-the-box characters surrounding him. The other is Pooh alone in his nightshirt and cap fast asleep. They both have certificates on them stating they were used in an original Disney production. In 1992, I went into the store in Disneyland where they had only Owl left from the original production at $350. On last checking in 2000, I was told I could probably get about $3,000 for both. Now there's a great deal! I'm still keeping them!
Santa Maria, California
Watch For A Bargain
In the late 70s one Saturday, we read an ad for a total estate auction at a house that morning in a town near us. The sale was due to start soon so we rushed over in time, only to do about 15 minutes of preview. I found three shoeboxes with jewelry in them. One had a bunch of broken up watches, some beads, and rings. I looked inside a ring and saw "14K." I thought I had a real find. When these boxes came up for bid, they were auctioned as choice. I took the box with that "gold" ring for $7.50. The ring turned out to be 14K RGP. I hadn't looked close enough to see it was only plated, but in with those watches were eight women's watches, some inset with diamonds, and a battered man's Rolex Oyster. Unemployed at the time, and needing money, I sold the women's watches for $8 each and the broken Rolex for $225. That event hooked me on auctions.
The Hunter and the Bear
My husband, Mike, and I were at a show in San Diego where we noticed a 15 3/4-inch bronze. We asked the price and the vendor wanted $2,500. We spoke about the piece for a while and walked away. We returned with an offer of $1,200 cash and it was accepted. The sculpture is marked by Nicholai Lieberich and is called "The Woodsman, Axe and Bear." It's from 19th-century Russia. Mike decided to look in my Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles price list for 2004 and found the piece under Bronze, Sculptures. It is valued in the book at $8,960. After many hours of research, we have found a treasure. It is truly beautiful.
— Betty Ann
Like any day out looking for a bargain, I found one, an old jug. I took it home and realized it had the words "Smithville, Tenn. Sept 12, 1907" on it. Years later I got to go to the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW in Tampa. I brought along my jug and had it appraised. The gentleman was very helpful and courteous and appraised it between $500 and $750. He also informed me that it might go for more in the area it was made. Well, I am pleased to let you know he was not wrong. I sold it today on an online auction for $910. It will be on display at the Tennessee State Museum for everyone to see. I can't wait to go back to one of your shows and bring another "Roadshow Riches" item!
While living in Japan during the early 1970s, I had many opportunities to see beautiful Kutani urns and other ceramic objects made by hand. I particularly loved one vase and purchased it even though it cost $150. We lived on an Army post and one night the lights went out. While searching for candles, my husband accidentally caused a wooden doll to fall and it landed on my beautiful vase taking two small bites out of the rim. So, we called the Kutani man who, with my husband, repaired my vase. My husband, knowing I was devastated, agreed to buy another. These large vases/urns measure about 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide and are hard to find as they require several firings and are subject to breakage in the kiln. After saying no to several urns over a six-month time, the Kutani man brought one I liked. He found it in the back of the storage area, he said, and really didn't know its story, but the clay was old style. When we moved back stateside in 1975, we had an appraiser look at the items and found the second urn had two marks on the bottom. The earlier mark was Chinese and the second fire mark was Japanese. Both items were appraised much higher then their purchase price.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Thrift Store Find
Several months ago I found a framed document in a thrift store and took it home for $10 because I thought the ink blotches made it look real. At that time I didn't even know what the Ordinance of Secession was. Now that I know, being Afro-American, I felt weird having it hang on my wall. But I thought, "What the heck, the matting matches the color of the wall," and I continued my research. The more I read, the more I realized how valuable this document was and why! I finally saw a picture and realized it was valued at $35,000.
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Graduate School Cider Mug
I volunteered at a thrift shop in Cleveland for 14 years. Often we would receive small antiques from people breaking up homes. One day a Chinese export pitcher came in, which I learned was a cider mug after seeing one later at the Henry Ford Museum. The handle was damaged and the cover long gone. Our manager placed a $10 sticker on it and there it stood for two weeks, unsold. At that time we workers were allowed to bid on items, which had not sold. I bid $10 and was the winner. I had the handle restored by a museum retiree for $5 and enjoyed it for some years. Finally, when my oldest son decided to attend graduate school, money was tight. I sold the mug to a dealer for $500! What a treasure to be redeemed as I told a friend. She commented that the only thing you ever own is what you give away. I have never regretted selling the mug.
Limbert Arts and Crafts China Cabinet
One Saturday evening my wife asked me to drive her to an antiques emporium in town. At first I complained, but agreed and drove to the place. I went my way and she went hers. I came upon a china cabinet that just wowed me. I normally inspect the pieces my wife is interested in buying, but this piece did catch my attention. I checked the condition and construction and I just loved it. I asked for the price and was told that it was $210 and that they would give me 10% off. I paid $189, not bad for an antique china cabinet. When I took it home I looked up information to find the approximate time it was made. I had guessed 1930s. While looking for information, I noticed a brand inside the drawer that said "Limbert Arts and Craft Furniture Company, Grand Rapids and Holland". I also noticed a number in the back of the cabinet and both shelves had the same number. I became curious and wanted more information. I went to a dealer and I showed him pictures of the piece. He confirmed that it was a Limbert and the value a lot more than what I paid. A week after I bought it I revived the finish and now the cabinet is displayed in the dinning room. And to think I did not want to go antiquing that evening!
It All Comes Out in the Wash
A friend of ours is what I call an "un-dumper" and is always bringing home treasures from the local dump. One day we saw that he had salvaged an old galvanized double washbasin up on legs and was using it as a planter on his patio. My husband and I took a liking to it and asked about it. He offered to give it to us, but we said we would research its value and make a fair offer for it. I did a little homework and saw several selling for $80 or $90 plus shipping. By the time we got back around to asking about it, he had sold it to a dealer. He felt bad that he hadn't known we really wanted it. A few months later, my husband came back from a day at a wonderful farm auction. He said he had brought me home a little present. In the back of his truck he had a beautiful example of a galvanized double laundry tub. The price this time? $7. Now we have a beautiful laundry tub, which is useful for many things, and we figure we saved a few bucks, too. Sometimes you have to wait a while for just the right treasure, but it all comes out in the wash!
Jamestown, New York
Let There Be Light
I used to be a carpenter for the Hotel Del Coronado in California. Two of us were sent down to the old vault that had been turned into a place to store their important paper work in 1920. As he and I were tearing out the old shelving we came to a section that had a void behind it. Inside this void were several boxes and when we looked inside the boxes we found so many treasured pieces of handcrafted antiques. One was an old candelabra. It was very ornate pewter and silver that was made to hold two candles.
In 1887 Thomas Edison and his original 10-member crew came out to the hotel and it was the first hotel in the world to be wired for electricity. He took many of these candelabras and wired them for electricity. These would be some of the oldest electric lamps in the world. There were so many other antiques as well. When we turned them in we were allowed to keep a couple of items as a reward. This was back in 1978. I chose the most ornate and beautiful lamps. The bottom plate is numbered, has Reed & Barton's name, and has the hotel's name and emblem. If you remove this plate, inside is the original wiring. The most remarkable thing is that it still works.
So, I own a lamp that was one of the first electric lamps in the world and wired by the master and inventor of electricity himself, Thomas Edison. It is in mint condition and to me is a priceless treasure that nobody else has. The hotel put the remaining items on display. They have one lamp that was not wired and is still a candelabra with a price tag of $5,000. I am the only one that owns the lamp wired by Edison. It is a priceless and precious antique and a one-of-a-kind.
Ft. McCoy, Florida
Civil War Treasure
I was approached by a man asking if I was the guy who collected swords. I answered with a resounding "YES!" He asked me to look at two swords he had in the trunk of his car. I did and he offered them both to me for half of the price of three appraisals I would have to get. I took them and had them appraised. Fortunately for me, in those days swords were not popular. They were written appraisals with the highest being $150. I took all three appraisals to the owner of the swords. He said "Oh heck, just give me $50 for the pair" and I did.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW came to Oklahoma and Mr. Mitchell confirmed I had a James Conning sword. They were rare. I was very happy to know I had this treasure and I was happy to learn all the research I had done was paying off. I have been appraising swords for local people here for over 15 years now. I have found information not found in any book and have compiled my own book of references. All this, thanks to the interests I have developed by watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. By the way, that sword turned out to be worth every penny I paid for it at $50. Mr. Mitchell agreed with me. It was worth $18,500 on a bad day because Confederate States swords are so rare. It is a beautiful piece of American history.
While browsing through the many bays at a flea market, I came upon a child's rocking chair that caught my eye. I thought it would be perfect for my "Patti Playpal" doll, which had been my favorite childhood toy. I asked the proprietor the price and was delighted to learn he wanted only $5 for it! Imagine my surprise when my online research resulted in discovering the chair to be from the 1930s, with an estimated value of between $100 and $175. My doll will be sitting pretty from now on!
Nashua, New Hampshire
I was in my favorite thrift store and saw two chandeliers sitting on the floor. They were very dusty and dirty. I saw them from across the room and thought they may be plastic. There was a man looking at them and I decided to wait until he was done and if he did not take them I would have a look. He walked away and I went over. The wires were cut at the top and they had old fixtures on them that read "Made in Taiwan." The fixtures did not match and I almost didn't buy them, but since they were only $4 each I realized I would only be out $8 if they did not work out. So I bought them.
I took them to a stained glass shop where the shop owner saw the tag and said "Oh my goodness. Please don't tell me you only paid $4 each for these." She said the fixtures may be made in Taiwan, but the chandeliers are very well made of American stained glass. They are worth approximately $500 each. I cleaned them up, changed the fixtures, and they are the most beautiful chandeliers I've ever seen. The horses are approximately seven by nine inches in diameter of different colored stained glass — saddle, mane, hooves, etc. The colored carousel horses are set in a clear rainbow glass. Above and below the rainbow glass is a pattern of milk and blue stained glass — just beautiful. I am a horse person and I love them.
Kindness Returned with St. Nicholas
Germ de Jong, a well-known 20th-century Dutch painter (born in 1886), used to come to my parents home in Amsterdam during the winter of hunger in 1944. The Germans had occupied Holland since 1940. In 1944, after the failed attempt by General Bernhart Montgomery to have the allied troops cross the Rhine River near the city of Arnhem ("a bridge too far!"), the Nazis refused to bring food to the major cities in the western part of Holland. As a result, many people died from hunger during that winter. My parents had somehow gotten a hold of a 50-pound bag of split peas. Mother made bowls of pea soup and that helped us to get through the winter.
On a few occasions, Germ visited our home and Mother served him soup. He was very grateful to have his stomach filled and one day brought her a charcoal drawing of the St. Nicholas church in Amsterdam. Oil paints were no longer available, so Germ was forced to use charcoal, which I believe he made himself. The drawing shows the church set back behind a row of houses along the waterfront that used to be an open bay of the Zuider Zee. In the corner of the drawing one can see the Tower of Tears where the sailors' wives gathered to wave goodbye to their husbands as the ship sailed away. It was from this point that Henry Hudson sailed on his discovery trip to what is now known as the Hudson Bay. Of course, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Amsterdam and the December 5th St. Nicholas feast is named after him. Santa Claus bringing presents has roots in the St. Nicholas story. The 19"-by-22" drawing is signed, dated 1944, and is in my possession. A number of Dutch museums own and exhibit some of Germ de Jong's works.
Hitching with Hadrian
In 1982 I was hitchhiking from Edinburgh to London. I ended up stranded at the roadside just south of Newcastle on Tyne, the home of Emperor Hadrian's wall. At the time, there were many excavation sites around the city where Roman ruins were being unearthed. As I stood at the side of the road with my thumb out, for what seemed to be an eternity, I kicked the dirt and paced back and forth. Something caught my eye, and as I bent down to pick it up, I realized that I had unearthed what seemed to be a small Roman relic. It is a triangular-shaped stone sculpture with fluted lines emanating from a circle and hole through the top, almost like a sun amulet that would have been worn as part of armor or as part of a horse's bridle. When I arrived in London I took it to the British Museum and a curator in the antiquities department confirmed that I had indeed found a strange and wonderful Roman object, and encouraged me to donate it to the museum collection. I chose to bring it home with me where it resides quite happily to this day.
Los Angeles, California
When I was in high school, my mother purchased china from the local grocery store for my hope chest. I have had the china packed in storage for over 30 years in the original boxes. I have the complete set minus the butter dish and candlesticks. A couple of months ago, I pulled them out to use and my friend, being curious, contacted a local antiques dealer. His comment was that they were worth $1,000 to $2,000, and possibly more with the original boxes. Needless to say, what I had out was boxed back up and put back in storage.
Why High School Pays
I was shopping at an antiques market when I spotted a rare Wave Crest plaque, something that I thought would be beyond my buying power. Surprisingly, it was reasonably priced. The dealer was working on a crossword puzzle and asked his wife for a four-letter, Spanish word for house. She responded, "hacienda." I smiled, told him the word is "casa" and that I would like an additional $5 discount. He had already lowered the price, but gladly lowered it $5 more. I purchased the plaque and gave thanks for my high school Spanish class many years prior.
I have a little, oval rug given to me by an elderly cousin of my mother's in Portland, Oregon. The children used the rug in the attic. It was very dirty and I was going to throw it away until I looked at it and noticed the flowers under the dirt. The cat had also used it! I called a rug cleaner in Portland and they asked me if it was wool and I said I thought it was. They also asked me if it was tied on the ends and I said it was so they asked me to bring it in, which I did. They cleaned the rug and when I went to pick it up they unrolled it for me and I said, "What a beautiful, little rug!" It was all flowers, bright and lovely. The man there asked me where I got it and I really had to think.
This cousin, Dr. Florence Brown, was a doctor in Portland for 40 years. She had a half sister who was a nurse, Gerty Brown, who went to China as a missionary and would sometimes send Florence things. Gerty never did come back to the U.S. She only had to come to the border of Manchuria and China to receive her inheritance when their father passed away. So, that's where I got the rug.
The man told me the name of the family who made these rugs and that they actually quit making them in 1927. So, that's the approximate age of the rug. I have forgotten the name of the tribe who made these rugs, but the man slyly offered me $350 for it. That was about 20 years ago. Some people who were in the store at the same time shook their heads at me and I told the man it was a keepsake so I couldn't really sell. I have kept it, keeping the cats and children off it, and it has retained its beauty.
George Washington Etching
My 84-year-old mother took a layer of newspaper out from the bottom of a very old chest of drawers that her mother had given to her 40 or 50 years ago. An artist's proof signed in pencil by "W. E. Marshall" in 1862 was also found face up in the chest. The pine wood grain from the bottom of the drawer was transferred onto the backing of this large etching. It is a proof of George Washington in the "dollar bill" pose. It must have been untouched for some time. My late grandmother did not know or just never mentioned this treasure in the bottom of the drawer. I took it to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and we compared it to theirs. They have a copy of the etching, but we have an original. Those folks were speechless. In Greensboro, I took it to Etherington Conservation and Don Etherington looked at it and said, "As clean as this is, it may be the first one done by William E. Marshall!"
Pleasant Garden, North Carolina
What's In The Box
While visiting a sister in Washington, D.C. last year, we strolled into a shop in the antiques mall. I found what I thought was an old wooden box of silver flatware. Upon opening it, I was saddened when I realized it was just some old gold tinted spoons and forks. However, I liked the old box and decided to buy it anyway. The owner sold it to me for $10. When I got back home to S.C., and unpacked it again to get a better look, I realized it was stamped "solid durilyte." Not knowing what that was, I went to my computer. The company is still in existence, so I sent them a picture of the set and they sent me a pricelist for replacements if needed. One butter knife was almost $100, and I have almost a complete set of the Empress pattern. And I bought it because I liked the old box!
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Perseverance Pays Off
When I moved to sleepy, little Burkittsville, Maryland, in 1983, the first neighbor to welcome me was an antiques dealer who lived down the street. While taking me for a house tour I greatly admired a painted dower chest dated 1777 with the initials SF, and decided then and there that someday I would try to obtain it. She and her husband had found the chest locally and painted black, only to discover the original surface when they stripped the piece. Twenty years later that same neighbor bought a house from me and to sweeten the deal asked what antique of hers I wanted. I said, "The 1777 chest!" I recently married a woman whose last name is Scott. My last name is Fout. The chest is initialed SF! What luck!
Follow Your Instincts
My husband and I were visiting local antique stores looking for bargains. We both have an interest in swords and this particular store had two antique swords on display. These were supposedly antique Japanese katanas. One was stamped "factory made" from the World War II era. The other was in a brass combat officer's sheath, which my husband felt did not belong with that particular sword. I had many misgivings because of his feelings, and in the long run I talked him out of purchasing the sword for $200.
We were leaving on our honeymoon (we had been married a week) and I convinced my husband it would still be there a week later when we returned. He claimed it would not. We returned from our honeymoon a day late, on Sunday instead of Saturday, a week later. We called the antique dealer to arrange to see the sword again. He had sold it late on Saturday to a gentleman from New York who was vacationing in our town. We kept in contact with the dealer, hoping he would have further swords. We stopped in to see him two weeks later and he told us he had heard from the buyer. The man had called him to thank him. The sword and sheath were appraised in New York and put up for auction. My husband was right. The sheath and sword were not supposed to be together. The sword was much older. The set sold at auction for $5,000 even though it was not actually a set! I have since learned to listen to my husband's instincts!
Family "Flippie" Mug
I was in Germany where I was in the military in the 1980s during the month of February. I was out with a German husband and wife and they asked me if I would like to come to their house for some drinks after going to a club. As I was getting ready to leave, I shook the guy's hand and hugged his wife. Before I walked out the door, the guy went into the cabin and gave me a "flippie" mug. On top it had a picture of a lady. The guy said that it had been passed down through his family and that they had no one else to give it to. I said he should keep it, but they didn't want to hear that so I took the mug and to this day I still have it. Even if it has no value, it has value to me and it will be passed on to my son.
San Antonio, Texas
Chessie Cat Lithograph
My father was a teacher, and for years he chaperoned senior trips from Indiana to New York and Washington, D.C. in the 1940s. They traveled on the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad trains. He always brought back a deck of playing cards with the trademark "Chessie Cat" on the backs. Years later I came across a signed litho of the "Chessie Cat." The owner did not want the print, only the frame, and gave it to me. The backing board carried a label from Madsen, in Paris, on the Rue St. Honoré. I researched the artist's name (G. Gruenwald, a Viennese artist) and had a local printer confirm that I had a stone litho print. It was created to symbolize quiet restful air-conditioned travel, "Sleep like a kitten," for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1937. It's a great treasure from my childhood. Unfortunately, when I graduated, we traveled by bus on our senior trip.
1932 Babe Ruth Baseball
My wife and I enjoy going to tag sales and one day I picked up a free cardboard box of plastic containers. I put the box in the garage and I didn't look it over until the following October when I was going to our landfill. I started tossing items that I didn't want into the trunk of my car when I picked up this old baseball that wasn't in very good condition. I was about to toss it with the other stuff when I saw the name "Babe Ruth." Well, I am not a baseball fan so I put the ball in my sock drawer and I forgot about it. In March, 2006, there was a story about the "Lost Treasures of Baseball" in the USA Weekend Magazine. The 1932 World Series "Called Shot" baseball that Babe Ruth hit off the Chicago Cubs pitcher Charlie Root was one of the lost treasures. I had never looked at that old baseball I put away in my sock drawer several years ago. I couldn't see very much outside of the signature so I went to my workbench and looked at the ball using a light with a magnifying lens. WOW! There's a lot of stuff on this baseball. A partial "YA," "CUB," the date 1932, a small hole, and some of the stitching is ripped apart. And this is just some of what is there. The signature has not been authenticated, but my gut feeling is that this could be the "Called Shot" baseball.
An Important Shelf Liner
While cleaning out my parents' home I discovered a couple of flat pieces of cardboard lying on a shelf under some other items. As I was about to throw them away, I happened to slide them apart and inside was a nice looking print. Peering more closely, I realized that it was signed "Grant Wood, 1937." I consulted a friend who is an art professor and she verified that I had found "Tree Planting Group" by Grant Wood. It was also noted on the print in Mr. Wood's pencil that it was a gift to Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Stroud. I knew who Hudson was because he was a fairly famous author in the 1950s through the 1970s and professor of creative writing at the University of Alabama where my dad was an accounting professor and business school dean for many years. I also knew that Hudson was one of Dad's tax accounting clients and that they were good friends. The print must have been a gift to my parents from the Stroud's. I don't know why they never had it framed and left it in the closet but it is now framed, de-foxed, and happily hanging on my wall. Always look at what is lining the shelves!
A Real Find
One day I spotted a ladder-back arm chair in a local shop in Washington D.C. At first I thought it was a reproduction, but when I noticed its beautiful patina I could see tiger maple, as well as wear on the arms and legs. I had a feeling it was an original, but not sure. I noticed another customer admiring it, so when he stepped away I, of course, grabbed it! I took it to the owner, a friend who was happy that I wanted it. She thought the chair was a reproduction, but I still thought it was original. I bought it for $120. As I was leaving the other customer approached me and said, "You have a real find." He said he was a fine antiques dealer and that the chair was authentic and was completely original. I was thrilled!! He believed it was made in the Tennessee-Kentucky valley area around 1790 and 1810. The owner, who overheard our conversation smiled and said, "Don't take that chair to the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW and find out it's worth $1,000 or more." I replied smiling, "I just might do that."
The Petty Family Archive
One of the many things the Petty racing family was famous for was the "Petty Boneyard." Simply put it was a wooded area where the old race cars would be towed after their days on the track had come to a close. In 1987 I had the opportunity to spend some time with Richard and his father while working on a magazine article. We were given access to the "Boneyard" one afternoon. Talk about a NASCAR museum, the further we walked into the woods the further back in time we went. Eventually the numbers on the doors went from 43 (Richard's) to 42 (Lee's). We came to an old rusted 1957 Oldsmobile with the number 42 on the door. Only on this car the "2" had been hand-painted into a "3," giving us the impression that this was most likely Richard's first race car. Upon further exploration I came upon a piece of machined aluminum filling in a part of the dashboard area. On the aluminum was the name "Richard" written in pencil in a child's handwriting. I removed this piece and showed it to Richard later that day. He autographed it and it went home with me.
Fast forward to 1992. On a return trip to Randleman, North Carolina, I asked to go back to the "Boneyard." Richard said that a few years prior the EPA had come in and either removed or buried all the vehicles. Consequently, I now have what I believe is the only piece of Richard's first car with not only his autograph as an adult but also as a child. In addition, I attended his last race and tribute concert in Atlanta and have a complete set of tickets and passes from that. Basically, I have the career bookends of one of auto racing's most famous drivers.
Humbled by a Humble Sign
Thirty years ago I bought a house from a man who had worked with my dad for Humble Oil Company. In the shed out in the back was a large enameled Humble Oil sign. I gave it to my dad thinking that he would want it. He kept it out in his backyard for about five years and then placed it in his sister's barn. When we returned to his sister's last year I asked my dad to find my old sign that had been in the barn for about 20-plus years. I took it home and decided to sell it since no one that I gave it to seemed to want it. I got an offer of $300 and then someone said "Why not try an online auction?" Well, after a week it sold for $1,825 to a dealer in New York City. My sign went from a Louisiana shed, to a backyard, to a barn, and then to downtown New York. Wow! What did I do with the money? I took my mom, dad, and daughter on a cruise.
Who Knows Nutting?
I live in a small town in Eastern Ontario, Canada, where an auction is held every month at the local hall. The local antiques market dealers, along with the local townsfolk flock there hoping to get a good deal on glass, pottery, and silver from estate sales. This auction is also known for its original works of art in oil and watercolor, and attracts many dealers knowledgeable in paintings. One night the paintings were being sold by lots; you could pick as many as you wanted for a specified price. I waited until the price went down to $10, and went up to take my pick. While I was poking around the tables, I noticed what appeared to be a print that had been colored in. To my surprise it was signed by Wallace Nutting and entitled "Grandmother's Sheffield." I bought it for $10 and after contacting several auctions houses I learned that it is worth as much as $300! So much for "knowledgeable art dealers!"
Grandma's Four Golden Rules
I owe my collecting hobby to my grandmother, who taught me some valuable lessons while I was at the tender age of eight. As we toured her "doll room," she would constantly remind me to 1) Narrow my collecting so that I became the expert, 2) Know your prices, 3) Pay attention to condition, and 4) Enjoy what you collect. She used her antique doll-collecting hobby to subsidize her family's earnings and many of her dolls commanded top dollar at many New York auctions. She was well known in the Chicago area as the "expert."
Being a guy, my focus became cars and parts, with the parts actually becoming my specialty. I would travel from town to town buying old car dealer inventory and found that this part-time job paid for my entire college education through a Masters degree. I decided to start my first collection, following the lessons learned from my grandmother, and saved all of the car emblems found at the various dealers. These were all new-in-the-box Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Ford, Rambler, Nash, Studebaker, Chrysler, and Cadillac, era 1940 to 1980, which at the time, did not command very much money. To me, they were like jewelry and I marveled at the artistry that went into each of the individual designs. My collection got a bit out of hand and I stopped when I hit around 2,500 pieces. Luckily the collection did not take up much space and never became a burden on our household.
Well, time has a way of making many things valuable and I now subsidize my family's income by selling on eBay. We've had individual emblems bring over $300 and our emblems have found their way onto top show cars from all over the world. The hardest part was actually selling my first emblem, as I had broken a rule by becoming emotionally attached to the collection (a lesson I must have missed). Having sold off around only part of our collection, we are well on our way to putting our daughter through college and paying off the mortgage on our house. We continue to collect, but have branched out into a different specialty: railroad collectibles. I continue to follow the rules set forth by my grandmother and have become one of the county's experts on railroad artwork, having recently spoken at the George Bush Library in College Park, Texas, worked as an appraiser, and have had many articles published in train magazines. Thank you, Grandma, for your valuable lessons, I paid attention.
The Lady in the Mink Coat
I lived down the street from an auction house in the early 1970s. I used to walk to it on Tuesdays before I went to work. One day there was a big turnout and one of the items for sale was a smoke stand that, although had interesting design, was black and looked as if it had been through a fire. The bidding began and as everyone else dropped out (at about $10) I knew I was bidding against only one other person. At $12 we both leaned into the crowd to see who we were bidding against. My heart sank when I saw the lady in the mink jacket. I, on the other hand, was in blue jeans and a T-shirt. As soon as she looked at me she dropped out of the bidding and I got the smoke stand for $12. Although it didn't clean up as nice as I hoped I did get it clean enough to tell that at one time it was brass. The blue crystal ashtray that was in the bowl (since broken) was why I wanted it. I still have it and love to tell the story about the lady in the mink.
A Quilt and a Western for a Kind Gesture
While looking for clothes at the local Salvation Army store and not sure of what I could afford, I picked up a magnetic fish game that reminded me of one I had years ago. It also seemed the only thing I could afford at the moment. I then walked passed the nearly empty bookshelves and found a book by Harry Brown for 25 cents. I kept it, deciding that it would be a good read, and continued on to the linen table, happy with my two items. While pulling out a tangle of sheets, blankets, and a mixture of curtains I pulled on a quilt. It had a patchwork of panels made of different fabric scenes. I was so happy, but when I pulled it completely I noticed it had a slight smell, stains, fading on one panel, and a few seams had unraveled. I was going to put it back but decided not to. Then I noticed it had handmade stitching. And handmade stitching meant the quilt was not machine- or factory-made. With the condition it was in I didn't know what to do, until a woman clear across the table and near the clothes racks rushed over and suddenly started searching near me while eyeing the quilt. I decided to keep it. The woman followed me until I was near the cash register and gave up after realizing I was not going to let the quilt go. At the register, I really wanted the quilt and the other two items, but only had $9 on me, not enough for the quilt. A man standing in the line eyed the fish game and asked if I was buying it. I said yes, but after a moment, I asked if he had kids and he said yes. So I gave it to him. With that gesture, the Salvation Army cashier smiled at me and gave me the quilt for $3 and the book for free. I was so happy as I walked home. At home, I found out the book was a 1960 first edition Western by Harry Brown and although the quilt has no name, identification of who made it, or when it is still handmade and beautiful. I hope to care for and preserve it, and hopefully learn from it.
Bronx, New York
R. Tourte Watercolors
I lived in Texas for many years in the 1970s. One day my husband met a retired doctor, who had no spouse and no children. We invited him over to our house and he fitted right in with our family. We loved him for his gentleness, wisdom, and caring ways for our children that were at that time ages five, three, and one. My family adopted him as our children's grandfather and he adopted us as his family. Needless to say, he was at our home for dinner at least twice a week, every weekend, and at every family function including holidays. His photo was often in family pictures. For us he was the grandfather; my parents lived in New York and my husband's father had passed. When my husband decided to move to south Florida he appeared very sad and we were sad, as well, to leave him behind. However, due to his failing health he reassured us that he had made plans to live in an assisted living house and he had everything arranged. Upon our departure he gave me as a gift his collection of R. Tourte watercolors and the artist binder that had a collection of ink block prints. He said "I know that as an artist yourself you will appreciate it." I framed a few pieces and left the others in the binder. A few years after we left Texas he passed away. His wisdom and caring ways remain with us forever.
The Holy Grail of Movie Posters
My next-door neighbors recently came over and asked my husband if he could help them move some rather heavy furniture out of a house that belonged to their daughter-in-law's deceased parents. After we finished helping, they offered us a bag of old movie posters and memorabilia that the parents had from owning an old movie theater. While burning trash we were hauling off from the house, we decided to go through the bag. My husband pulled out a poster that read "Metropolis." It had pictured at the bottom a very fake, scary-looking creature. Having five kids, my husband said, "I'm going to keep this to scare our kids." Laughing, I grabbed the poster and threw it on the fire. Later the same night I was watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW when they asked a collector of movie memorabilia what would be the Holy Grail find for him? He replied by saying, "I would like to find the US version movie poster of the movie Metropolis." He said it would be priceless to him! I looked at my husband staring at me and said, "Don't you say a word!" Needless to say, I cried the whole night.
Souvenir of a Lifetime
During the summer of 1959 I was on liberty from the USS Taconic AGC-17 in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France. I had grown tired of sailors' haunts and wanted to see real French life. I walked past the waterfront after visiting little family-owned restaurants, etc., when the demolition of a boathouse caught my eye. I was able to poke about without being challenged and up toward the interior of the roof was, I thought, a cobweb-covered coat of arms. I asked a worker if he knew who owned the clump of dust; he said no one and that the boathouse was being destroyed and rebuilt. I asked if I could buy the clump from him and he eagerly said "Yes, five dollars American." This might be the souvenir of a lifetime, and I was eager to pay him to climb up to get it for me.
When I was able to clean the dirt off the prize it turned out to be a large dark, wooden clock. It is spring-wound with a pendulum above a hooked door; the brass works is enclosed in an octagonal box with lead shielding behind the wooden clock face and Roman porcelain numbers. Its chime, a wound wire, is struck on the hour with a leather-covered wooden mallet. The clock is 25 inches tall and 18 inches wide with deeply carved and intricately detailed dark wood. It has a fox on one side and a hound opposite with grapes, vines, and birds in the center. The brass works has an outline image of a bell with the stamped words "EISERIN BREVETE SC" arched over and under the bell that is bordered on each side with the letters E and S. Underneath is stamped 1595, and below that are a random two separate 5s. Personal value? Priceless! Real value? Unknown.
Land Survey Equipment?
About five years ago my younger brother was a garbage man. He found a wooden box with some type of measuring device inside of it. Well, I was at one time on a land survey crew and I love antiques as well. My brother, thinking it was something used for surveying land, brought it home for me. We usually only see each other on holidays and he rode around with this wooden box in the back of his pickup truck for about two months. Then on Christmas, when he was loading up his family to leave our mom's house, he spotted the box. He handed it to me and told me about finding it in the trash and that it was really old looking. He really thought it was land survey equipment. I did some research on my little wooden box and what was inside it. That's when I discovered that what my brother found in the trash was truly a treasure. Inside of that wooden box was a stadimeter. This is not just any stadimeter, either. I am the proud owner of Lt. Fiske's Stadimeter, Pat. Pending No. 7 from the 1890s. I have done hours of research looking for a stadimeter like mine. I have never found one, not even on eBay! However, I did find one very similar... at the Smithsonian! Mine is older and in much better condition than theirs! Wow, talk about a treasure. This was a type of survey equipment for sure, but it was used on the seas, not the land.
When we moved my mother's things up to our Alaskan home after she passed away, we inherited a wealth of art work that was hers and my fathers. My mother, Pamela Mason, was a well-known western artist and my father, Hubert Mason, was an engineer and commercial artist, more fondly remembered for his caricatures and humorous art. When we moved some of their "boxes" of materials out of our downstairs after an argument with the sewer line, I began to go through some of the materials that they had stored away. In one box there was a plastic bag holding a tissue-wrapped package of about 100 lithographs by H. M. Wall and others. These are beautiful original proofs and color originals for seed catalogues and children's book illustrations, such as the "One Syllable Series," which must have been popular at the turn of the last century.
Wall was my mother's aunt's husband and apparently was a well-known New York lithographer who was active in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While I had seen a few of the flower illustrations, I was amazed at the package and number of originals casually wrapped and stored away. All are in excellent condition and the colors are like new! When I went onto the Internet I looked up "H. M. Wall lithographer" and was immediately directed to what turned out to be a Smithsonian Institute display on lithography. One of the displays showed a Child's catalog and a cover photograph of one of Wall's lithographs! Now my challenge is to find our how much they are worth and where I can auction or sell a portion of them — it would be a shame to put them back in the box!
First Place Oars
About 23 years ago my father bought an old apartment building in Medford, Massachusetts, which he renovated. When he was cleaning the basement he found a pair of black walnut oars that he used to prop up the basement windows. Then my brother noticed that the oars had engraved plates on each of them. One of the inscriptions read, "1st Prize Lake Winipiseogee August 3rd, 1852." The inscription on the other oar read, "Won at the Regatta between Harvard and Yale by the Harvard Club Oneida Class of '53." The regatta was the first intercollegiate sporting event in North America. The oars are the first place prize that was presented to the Harvard crew who won the regatta over Yale.
Attending the regatta and presenting the oars to the Harvard crew was General Franklin Pierce, who was running for president of the United States of America, and who later became the 14th President of the United States of America in 1853. My father discovered that this event has much historical value. It was the beginning of all college sport competitions in North America. An abundance of history surrounds this race. He also learned that approximately one third of the courageous rowers who participated in this historic regatta went on to become officers in the Civil War. In addition, his research also revealed that a superintendent from the Boston, Concord, and Montreal Railroad Company offered to pay for the expenses associated with the regatta, expecting that it would promote train travel to New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee region. Once Harvard and Yale agreed with the superintendent's offer, the first college rivalry in all of North America began.
A Wave From Heaven
A friend called the other night to ask if I'd seen the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW that just aired (Part 2 from Bismarck). She said a woman showed a framed Kodak advertisement she bought at my grandparent's Fortuna, North Dakota, shop. I recalled the item, thanked my friend for calling, and sat musing at the coincidence of that show airing the very week my late grandmother would have turned 99 years old.
A few minutes later it hit me why that Kodak collectible was so familiar. Of all the antiques in my grandparents' shop, for some reason I have in my photo album a picture of me holding that very item. I was visiting Fortuna in 1982 and my grandmother wanted a photo of the advertisement to send to a prospective buyer. I agreed to hold the framed advertisement and have my picture taken. It was funny because Grandma always used an old Kodak box camera to take pictures, and the advertisement was a picture of a woman taking a photograph of a family group. The legend on the frame reads, "Keep a Kodak Story of the Children." I also took a picture of Grandma that day.
I found both photographs in my album, side by side. Knowing how fastidious Grandma was about writing on the backs of photographs, I checked to see what she wrote on the backs of these. Mine simply had my name on it, but hers read "Grandma Martha Scheff, 75 years." That's when I remembered the reason I was in Fortuna that day, 24 years ago. It was grandma's 75th birthday! I can't help but feel the appearance of this Kodak advertisement on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a little wave from heaven #8212; not to mention a scold to remember to do a better job of documenting my own family's memories! I would love to find the woman who owns that Kodak collectible now. I don't want to buy it, but I would like to share this story with her. It feels rather amazing to me.
Fortuna, North Dakota
An Austrian Hutch
I met Chuck about 10 years ago. I always admired this beautiful hutch he had in his house. He had bought it 10 years previously at an estate sale in Los Angeles. When he decided to sell his house he sold all his furniture except the hutch. I couldn't possibly ever afford the hutch with four daughters and two grandchildren living at home. Accidentally I blurted out, "Well if you're just gonna leave the house for a realtor to sell, please don't leave the hutch!" never thinking I would ever own it. Well, lo and behold, he told me I could have it! It is my most treasured antique and I am so happy it came into my life! Now comes the impossible search to find out if it's really an 1870 Austrian hutch. Thank you, Chuck!!!
Squaw Valley, California
Bidding on the Small Stuff
My mother and I have a weekly hobby of going to a local Saturday night auction. One night the crowd was a little bigger than usual. The sale was from a local gentleman that most everyone knew. After most of the bigger items and furniture had been sold, the auctioneer moved onto the kitchen items and junk boxes. That is when most folks decided to visit the snack bar. But for the ones who stuck around... we hit GOLD! In one box there were programs from the University of North Carolina basketball games with a young Michael Jordan as one of the players. I missed out on those. My box, bought for $2 because it had a great pie taker and other kitchen items, held a small, brown vase. After taking it home, washing it off, and looking at the bottom, I found out that it was a McCoy Pottery vase and it has been appraised at $50. So the next time the auctioneer starts bidding on the small stuff just hang around!
Mebane, North Carolina
Time to Dust the Toys
When my brothers and I were just little kids back in the 1930s in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, once every year my Aunt Marian would tell us that it was time to dust the toys in the cubby hole in the attic. Would we like to help her? We waited each year to hear her say that. The cubby hole was a trap door in the attic of my grandmother's house that contained toys that were my father's, uncle's, and aunt's, dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s. As my aunt would take them out, we were allowed to hold them and look at them but never do anything that would hurt them. After the toys were dusted, they were put back in the cubby hole to await their next annual dusting.
My aunt died in the 1990s and the toys from the cubby hole were given to my cousins, brothers, and me. My prize possession, a toy that I selected, is a metal wind-up toy with a boy, Patty, riding on the back of a pig. Patty has on the original tan material britches, cape, and knickers. The pig has a metal cape painted red and trimmed in gold. Patty has on a green top hat and is holding the reins to the pig. The saddle is light green. When you wind it up, Patty goes back and forth like he is riding a horse and his arms move up and down, pulling the reins. It still works. The lettering beneath the works says LEAMANN'S D. R. PATENTE ENGL.PATENTS. Made in Germany. U.ST.A Pat'd 12 MAY 1903. There is a marking on the saddle and underneath that resembles a bell hanging from a barbell. I don't think there is anything that I treasure more than Patty's Pig. I took it to Freeman's Auction House in Philadelphia to have it appraised and they were very impressed.
A Presidential Discovery
I tend to frequent coin and antiques shows. At one show I was intrigued by a box of old cancelled stock certificates, which I purchased as a group without really going through them. Weeks later, when I did have time to rummage through them, I found laying folded in the bottom of the box an old land grant for property near the old Fort Dodge in Iowa. It was a presidential land grant signed by President James Buchanan himself. I'd call that a presidential discovery!
— C. Douglas
Original Maija Painting
While my husband and I were out garage-saling we went to an apartment where a lady was selling her mother's furniture and household items. My husband spotted a beautiful large painting of an Indian chief and purchased it for $20. He proudly took it home (I wasn't as enthused as he was) and hung it in the dining room. For one year it hung there when I decided to look at the name and check it on the internet to see if the painter was on there. And she was: It was an original painting by Maija. I sold it on eBay, with my husband's approval, for $500!
Buy What You Like
I used to frequent an auction barn out in the country. I saw a piece of pottery in amber/ochre/green tones that I liked. I only saw it from a distance, but decided I wanted it, and requested it to go next. Sure enough, I got the piece for $15. There were no markings on it, but I liked it. Months later I was looking through a book on Ohio pottery at a local bookstore. And there it was! A jardiniere made by Roseville in a pattern called "Autumn." It was made before 1918 when pieces were identified only by paper stickers. The book indicated a value of $750. And there I was, alone in the middle of the bookstore, dying to say "Hey, someone, come here and look at this! I have this!!!" I can't say I like the piece any more than I did before I found it was worth $750, but I can attest: buy what you like!
1885 Crazy Quilt
Recently we visited a friend in Florida. She knows that I'm a quilter and asked if I would like to see a quilt she had. When she put it out for me to see I got goose bumps. For 30 years she has had this beauty folded in the top of her closet. I, needless to say, went bananas!! When we met her the next day she said that she had finally made a decision about the quilt. She would not give it to me, but was willing to share it with me because of my reaction to its beauty. It is dated 1885, has spiders, shoes, a three-dimensional butterfly, an owl, a horse, stars, names, initials — too many things to mention! And the stitching around the patches is outstanding. Finally, it is trimmed in a red velvet border and ecru lace. It is a delight to behold. I had planned to hang it but was advised not to. Only one little spot has shown any real wear amazingly enough. It was appraised for $1,800. She gave me the appraisal. I was told to lay it against something if I wanted to show it, which I definitely do, changing its position once a week. I will never let it be hidden away again! Although she is not aware of all the history behind the patches, I'm sure there are many stories to be told. How lucky can you get to be sharing this beautiful piece of art?
West Chester, Pennsylvania