It’s hard to predict what you’ll see on an episode of Antiques Roadshow. From art to baseball cards and vases to jewelry, eager guests bring items they’ve had for generations or more recently bought at an antique store or yard sale. They hope for an exciting surprise. While sometimes they’re disappointed, other times the outcome exceeds their wildest dreams with prices above a million dollars.
Below are some of the most valuable finds from the show’s history. These results are a little like winning the lottery and the amount of money can be life-changing for the owners. The appraised value of any of these items may have you wondering about the worth of things hidden away in your own home.
Six and seven-figure artwork
Some of the most highly appraised items from the show center around beautiful artwork. One guest showed up on set with a 1904 painting by a young Diego Rivera. The painting was valued between $800,000 and $1,000,000. It had been hanging on the back of a door in his parents’ house for years before he took ownership.
The show has identified a host of other noteworthy pieces, including an authentic Frederick Remington painting valued in the range of $600,000 to $800,000 and a 1925 Oil Painting portrait by Robert Henri which was ultimately valued at $500,000 to $700,000. On a show filmed in England, one owner brought in a sketch for Anthony VanDyck’s famous painting, The Magistrates of Brussels, which he found at an antique shop. It was initially valued at $640,000.
Peanuts comic strip
While Antiques Roadshow features its share of classic art, the Phoenix, Arizona episode featured something different — a collection of Peanuts comic strips. The owner originally began collecting them for her son because he was a fan. As her son grew older he took up the hobby and also began to collect signed lithography by the comics’ artist, Charles Shultz. The collection includes some rare comic strips from the 1950s and was valued at $450,000
Million dollar antique baseball cards
Many adults dream about the prices that they could get for baseball cards they once had but were thrown out or given away. The show featured the ultimate version of this dream when it uncovered sets of century-old historic baseball cards from the 1871-1872 Boston Red Stockings. Guest Leila Dunbar had inherited the cards from her great-grandmother who ran a boarding house that the team stayed at. The cards came complete with a letter and were valued at a million dollars.
The show also came close to featuring another spectacular baseball card find — the valuation of a set of original Honus Wagner baseball cards found in Baltimore, Maryland. These cards were printed between 1909 and 1911 and are valued for their rarity. The appraisal ultimately didn’t make it on television because the owner had pre-existing knowledge of the cards’ value. That’s something the producers will stay away from, as they ensure that all of their guests are genuinely surprised when they hear the value of their items on camera.
Jewelry and housewares
It’s not surprising that visitors to the show would bring in jewelry and household items that appraise at six figures or more. In 2010, an elaborate Faberge drinking vessel was brought on the show. Given by the Emperor of Russia to the ward of the ship the HMS Talbot, it was made of a unique metal and appraised at between $600,000 and $700,000.
In 2004, a gentleman brought his grandfather’s pocket watch to the show. This wasn’t just any pocket watch. It was a 1914 antique pocket watch by Swiss craftsman Patek Phillipe. It was originally valued on the show at $250,000 in 2004, but in 2016 it was reappraised at $1.5 million. That’s a lot of pocket change for a pocket watch.
Another stunning item was brought to the show in 2009. It was a collection of 18th Century Quianlong Jade which was appraised at between $700,000 and a million dollars at auction. The collection was begun by the owner’s father when he was stationed in China during World War II.
Items you just can’t categorize
Participants can bring just about anything to Antiques Roadshow, and they often do. Some of the items they feature defy categorization. In Tuscon, a stunning 19th century Navajo Ute first phase blanket was ultimately appraised for between $750,000 and $1,000,000 after it’s owner brought it to the show. It was given to the owner’s family by frontiersman Kit Carson. The blanket’s design marked the beginning of Navajo weaving and it was so tightly knit that it could repel water.
Another of the most unusual — and most valuable — finds on the show was a set of Chinese drinking cups made from rhinoceros horns. The record-breaking valuation came in at between a million and a million and a half dollars. The owner began collecting the cups on trips abroad during the 1970s. Some of the pieces in the collection date to the 18th century.
Another episode featured one of the rarest cameras in existence — a gold-plated camera with lizard skin casing. The Leica Lexus camera is extremely rare and one of only four produced in its lot. The last owner retained the camera since World War II it was sold at auction for $620,000, less than its minimum appraisal value of $780,000.