Anyone who loves antiques can't help but feel a thrill when an especially valuable item is discovered on the PBS show Antiques Roadshow or its BBC counterpart. It's even better when the person who brought the item in has no idea of its real value. A few items stand out as some of the most valuable antique finds ever produced for TV viewers.
Highest Value Antiques Roadshow Items
Out of the many valuable items appraised on the Antiques Roadshow program, a pocket watch is the highest value item from the PBS version of the show and a Faberge flower has the highest value from the BBC version.
PBS - Patek Philippe Pocket Watch
In 2004, a St. Paul, MN viewer brought a family heirloom on the show, a gold pocket watch that had originally belonged to his grandfather in 1914. The watch, made by the Swiss company Patek Philippe, had many complicated features and included the original box and warranty and several extra parts. The watch had been appraised in the past for about $6,000, so the owner was shocked to hear it valued at $250,000. Two years later, the watch sold at Sotheby's for even more: $1,541,212. The show updated its valuation accordingly. According to Entertainment Weekly, it's the most valuable item ever on the show.
BBC - Faberge Flower
The Daily Mail reports that the most valuable item ever on the BBC version of the popular show is an exquisite Faberge flower with gold, silver, rock crystal, enamel, and a diamond center. The six-inch-tall flower is one of only 80 surviving "botanical studies" created by Faberge in the early 1900s of different flower species. Brought in by two soldiers for the show's 40th anniversary in 2017, the flower came with its original presentation box. The treasure had been passed down in the soldiers' regiment. Below, you can watch their reaction to its appraised value of more than one million British pounds.
More Valuable Treasures from Antiques Roadshow
Many other extremely valuable antiques have shown up on both versions of the show over the years. The following stand out in their categories for being worth significant sums of money.
Sculpture - Maquette of the Angel of the North
According to the BBC, the maquette, or preliminary model, for the famous Angel of the North, a sculpture by Anthony Gormley in Gateshead, England, is the second most valuable item ever on the British version of the show. The six-foot-high piece of contemporary art was made by the sculptor as a model of the 66-foot-high outdoor piece. It appraised at over one million pounds in 2008. At the time, it ws the highest valuation ever on the show.
Asian Art - Rhinoceros Horn Ceremonial Cups
In 2011, a man in Tulsa, Oklahoma brought in a collection of rhinoceros horn cups he had been gathering for decades. Most dated to the 18th century and were Chinese in origin. The collection appraised for $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. You can watch the full original appraisal on the PBS website.
Sports Memorabilia - Boston Red Stockings Baseball Items
Sports memorabilia appears on the show quite frequently, but a notable collection of old postcards, photographs, cards, and letters from the 1870s tops the list of the most valuable sports items to ever appear on the show. The collection was appraised in New York City in 2011 for about $1,000,000.
Cameras - Gold-Plated Leica Luxus II
A Leica Luxus II plated in gold and covered in lizard skin was appraised on the BBC version of the show for 320,000 pounds in 2001. It is one of only four made, and experts now estimate its value at $1,000,000 or more. It is likely the most valuable antique camera in the world.
Painting - Diego Rivera's "El Albañil"
A 2013 episode of the PBS version of the show featured a previously undiscovered painting by Diego Rivera. The man who brought the 1904 portrait in was shocked to discover it was worth up to $1,000,000. This made it the highest appraisal of the season and the most expensive painting ever appraised on the show.
A Thrill for Antiques Lovers
Antiques Roadshow is amazing for the vicarious thrill it provides to antiques lovers. There are few things more exciting watching a professional appraisal of a special item when the high value outcome is a surprise to the owner and viewers alike.