It’s become one of the most loved TV shows right across the world, uncovering hidden treasures and welcoming famous faces on camera to share their incredible family histories. But some findings on Antiques Roadshow have been particularly memorable through the years.
While a small object used as a paperweight for years by a school headteacher was actually found to be a famous sculpture worth £750,000 (AU$1.3 million), another intricate ‘vase’ used as an indoor goalpost by a football-loving family was worth a staggering £668,000 (AU$1.2 million).
And with everything from JFK’s jacket, to wartime medals, classic dolls and famous paintings appearing on the show, there have been some major bombshells dropped on unsuspecting families who have dug out family heirlooms to be valued for thousands or even millions of dollars.
The BBC complied some of the show’s most valuable and exciting finds through the years, and here are some of the best of the bunch:
The highest valuation in the history of the show was famed sculptor Antony Gormley’s design model for his Angel of the North sculpture, which was presented on the show in 2008 with a whopping value of £1 million (AU$1.8 million).
Gormley made the model, along with a number of others, to convince councillors to commission the now-iconic statue in the north of England. This 6ft by 17ft (1.8 metre by 5.1 metre) model has since been owned by Gateshead Council for more than a decade, the BBC previously reported.
“This was one of the most exciting moments that we’ve ever had on the show,” series editor Simon Shaw said at the time. Meanwhile, Fine art expert Philip Mould added: “It’s a great thrill to me that something produced in the last 15 years has broken the record for the most valuable item to ever have been on the show.”
Another beautiful treasure was unveiled on the BBC show when the team visited Cleethorpes in 1991 – and it couldn’t have come as more of a shock to owner Terry Nurrish, who admitted he had previously used it as an indoor goalpost for his kids to play football at home in Grimsby, UK.
It was given to him by his mum, who previously bought it at a house clearance sale in 1946 in a £100 ‘job lot’ of antiques.
While the owners assumed the Parisian Bronze Jardiniere was a pretty flower pot, expert Eric Knowles revealed that it was actually a French ‘Japonisme’ urn made in 1874.
It was cast in gilt bronze with handles styled as cranes. According to the Mail Online, Terry kept it for 23 years before selling it at auction in 2014 for £668,000.
In another amazing artistic discovery, the team went from ancient treasures to something decidedly more modern in 2014 as they visited Ashton Court.
Famous modern artist Banksy had painted his ‘Mobile Lovers’ image on a door opposite Broad Plain Boys’ Club in Bristol and it showed a couple embracing while staring at their phones.
Following an ownership battle between the local council and the club, Banksy wrote to the club to confirm it was theirs. After appearing on the show, it was sold in 2014 for £403,000 and the proceeds went to keep the Boys’ Club going.
Elsewhere, while many people may not know the true worth of an old sculpture passed down the generations, one school librarian got the shock of her life after discovering what her headteacher had previously used as a paperweight was actually worth a staggering £750,000.
Having seen the artefact sat on the corner of the head’s desk for years, the librarian at St Ives School in Cornwall finally took it on the show in 2012 to get it valued.
There, she was told it was an original sculpture by 20th-century British artist Barbara Hepworth, worth between £60,000 and £80,000. However, it was revalued for the high price after being donated to the Cornwall Arts Collection for display.
An early 18th Century doll’s house proved a huge hit on the TV programme in 2016, when it was declared to be “of national importance”.
Expert Fergus Gambon valued the “unique” collection at £150,000 and told its owners it was “one of the most important English baby houses in existence”.
The doll’s house was built in 1705 and has been in the owner’s family ever since, being passed down the female line for generations.
Elsewhere, war memorabilia is always hugely sentimental for a family, but this collection was awarded for pigeons – and came with a huge price tag.
A collection of war time ‘Dickin Medals’, the animal equivalent of a Victoria Cross, was valued by expert Graham Lay between £180,000-200,000 when the show visited Stewe House previously.
He said at the time: “There were a quarter of a million pigeons in the National Pigeon Service and they saved thousands of lives during the First and Second World Wars.
“Every reconnaissance aircraft, every bomber that left the shores of the UK, had two racing pigeons. If the aircraft was shot down and the radio was lost, the pigeons would be released with the coordinates, they’d fly back and basically the air crew would be picked up.”
Not many people can boast they’ve been able to touch a piece of John F. Kennedy’s clothing, but the Antiques Roadshow team got the privilege when they were asked to value his old bomber jacket.
The black garment was valued between £200,000-£300,000 when it was brought to Walmer Castle in Kent.
Expert Jon Baddeley called the jacket an “iconic piece”, and it was claimed by the BBC it was the legacy of a love affair between the former US president and a Swedish girlfriend in the 1950s.