Occasionally Often on Antiques Roadshow something will turn up that’s so odd, unusual or, dare I say it, grotesque it could only be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Like this wooden jug, for example, which was valued at US$50,ooo (the equivalent of $68,000) in a recent episode of the program.
Just. Look. At. It.
The ‘grotesque face jug’ was brought to the table by Oregon man Alvin Barr who bought it at a barn sale for around US$300.
“It was covered with dirt and straw,” Barr told expert appraiser Stephen Fletcher.
“Looked like some chicken droppings were on it. It was very dirty. I had to have it. It speaks to me… it was saying, ‘I’m very unusual… I’m very different.'”
We've no doubt it said something to him (it has enough mouths), but perhaps it was saying something more along the lines of 'hello, I'm a crude clay embodiment of teenage angst'.
Because it wasn't actually a 19th century antique worth $68,000. Nope. it was not.
As it turns out, the jug was made by another Oregonian, Betsy Soule, in her high school ceramics class. In the 1970s.
Not, as Fletcher had speculated, in the late 19th century.
A youthful Betsy with some of her other creations. Source: PBS
A friend of Soule's who saw the episode called in to let them know their mistake.
A correction now appears under the episode on the PBS website, along with a statement from Fletcher in which he describes the "mysterious" find as "unlike any other example I have seen".
Similar pieces sold from the 19th century tended to have "a single grotesque face", rather than six, he said.
"This example, with its six grotesque faces, was modeled or sculpted with considerable imagination, virtuosity and technical competence," he adds.
"Obviously, I was mistaken as to its age by 60 to 80 years. I feel the value at auction, based on its quality and artistic merit, is in the $3,000-$5,000 range. Still not bad for a high schooler in Oregon."
Not bad indeed! And let's be honest a lot of the stuff on Antiques Roadshow looks like it was made in a high school art class.