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What We Learned from Antiques Roadshow

July 03, 2015 1 Comment

I have thoroughly enjoyed spending this week sharing with you about our trip to Omaha for the Antiques Roadshow. Reader response has been astounding. I was feeling nervous about starting this blog, because the blogger world is intimidating and difficult to set foot in. After this week, I am feeling encouraged, and am determined to find even more interesting topics to discuss. Spontaneous adventures may be in order.

The opportunity to just be a part Antiques Roadshow was enough to keep the RoofTop Antiques crew fueled for a while. I believe the experience we had taught us things that we didn’t expect to learn. Those lessons have motivated us, and we will utilize this knowledge to sharpen our skills even more.

To share more about what we learned, I need to do a quick recap of the items we took on our journey to Omaha.

Perry Nature Prints

Perry Nature Prints

This set of 395 prints was purchased by my dad at a local farm auction, where he spent the entire day standing in the rain. He paid a total of $10 for the entire box. The prints were given an appraisal value of $3-15 per print, for a total value of $1,188 to $1,975+ if each print was sold separately. 

JMW Turner Print

Joseph Mallord William Turner Print

This print was purchased straight off of the wall of an antique mall bathroom for $30. The print is pencil signed "Turner", but appraiser did not believe the signature was genuine. I have been in discussion with an art gallery in Europe (where most of Turner's original work is housed) and hope to receive a more concrete answer in regards to the signature. Regardless, the appraised value was $75. You can read more about the Turner print and the Perry Prints here in my original post.


The next 4 items were all purchased at an estate auction for Elizabeth Evans. Mrs. Evans spent her life collecting true antiques, from 19th century lighting to the finest sterling jewelry. This auction was conducted by Iman Auction out of Salisbury, one of our personal favorite companies. This sale in particular was called "one of the finest auctions conducted" in their last 10-15 years of business. The auction was highly advertised, and people came from all over the country to purchase items. We spent hours researching the advertised items and went armed with a knowledgeable three-person team over a period of two days. We nervously spent a large chunk of change, but were hopeful that we had some great, rare items among our purchases. You can read the original post detailing the appraisals of these pieces here.

Blacksmith Oil on Canvas Painting

Blacksmith Oil on Canvas Painting

This equestrian piece (which I love, regardless of its price tag) was purchased for $275 at the Evans auction. It was appraised for $300 to $500. 

Flora Baker Watercolor Painting

Flora Baker Watercolor

Another purchase from the Evans auction, this painting cost us $300. It was appraised initially for $800 to $1200. Moments later, the appraiser valued it at $500 to $1000. We aren't sure if he changed his mind or simply forgot that he had already given a different value.

Bimson Watercolor Paintings

Bimson Watercolor Paintings

These sweet little pieces of folk art were purchased from the Evans estate for a total of $200. They were given an appraisal value of $635.

Costa Rican Bowl

Costa Rican Bowl

This little 1,000-year-old gem from Costa Rica was purchased for $75 from the Evans estate. It was valued at $20 to $30 in auction.

Civil War latter 

Collection of Civil War Letters

The set of 116 letters written during the Civil War were purchased at a local farm auction. It was a miserable, rainy day, and the letters were sold near the end. We paid $70 for all. The collection was appraised for $8,700 to $11,600 or more, dependent on the content of each the letter. Read more about our beloved letters in this post

Composite Sketch

Police Composite Sketches

The two notebooks full of suspect composite sketches were purchased in Ozark, Missouri at a medium-sized antique mall. Most of the items were museum-quality old, but these sketches kept calling out to us. They were hesitantly purchased for $90. Fast forward one year, the sketches nearly land us on TV. They were appraised for $100 apiece, for a total value of $10,500. For the full story, see the original post.  

After spending our day with these items and their stories, we noticed a trend. The items which were purchased intentionally were worth a fair amount for what we paid (with the exception of the Costa Rican bowl, of course) but they weren't the shining stars that we were hoping for when we purchased them. The items that were purchased purely on gut instinct, in off-the-wall locations are, by far, the most valuable. Not only were their monetary appraisals much higher, the stories they carried were far more compelling. What does this mean for RoofTop Antiques? Maybe we really do know what we are doing.

We have days, especially lately, that feel unsuccessful and draining. Sometimes we feel like we don't really belong in the world of online sales. Our weekend at Antiques Roadshow helped us see that, even in those uncertain moments of contemplation, our instincts have almost always guided us in the right direction. If we can hone in on those moments (and figure out how to make them more frequent) we are going to be just fine.  

1 Response

Peggy Dittman
Peggy Dittman

April 08, 2017

Harlan Embrey is my grandfather. Those sketch books were in his estate from Bolivar Mo. My sister inherited the estate. When he retired from Reno Police Dept the sketchs were a retirement gift. If you need some sort of letter, I’m sure my sister could provide. Just want to help give providence to his work. Let me know if I can help.

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