Confession: I am a closet Antiques Roadshow fan.
Actually, a better description would be a “lunatic fringe” Antiques Roadshow fan. I like the outliers. The long tail participant. The more someone is shocked—good or bad—the better!
I could care less about the middle-of-the-pack participants. There are hundreds of those. They’re a dime-a-dozen. Or maybe more like $100-a-dozen.
You know how it works.
The PBS show travels to some middle-American city to mine treasure from hundreds of hopefuls, anxious to receive the authoritative confirmation of their suspicion: there’s gold in them thar attics.
The average person brings in their “priceless” artifact for valuation. It’s been handed down from generation to generation and originally belonged to some great-great-great something-or-other. (The actual number of “greats” is never in play, but I always wonder.)
Then their item of family history is something like an English silver spoon which was used by the Royals when so-and-so was married. Only it turns out the spoon wasn’t manufactured in London as they thought. The big payoff comes when the appraiser asks what they think the spoon is worth. They hem and haw for a moment before the appraiser robs the wind from their sails to announce that the spoon is only worth about $200 and came from a sweatshop in the Philippines. The value of the item is usually an amount that’s enough to treasure, but not enough to sell. Just maybe, if they hang onto that treasure another 100 years or so it’ll be worth $250. (FWIW, the vast majority of the attic hunters never sell their heirloom, regardless of the appraisal.)
Now I really love the outliers. There are two types of those kinds of Antiques Roadshow guests:
- There’s the guy who thinks his original Monet oil painting was created in the late 1800’s and presumes it’s worth a million dollars. And he’s right. There IS something priceless alright. It’s the look on his face when the appraiser tells him it’s a Dollar Tree store knock-off worth about five bucks. I admit there’s something sadistically satiating when you see someone’s dream dashed in a fraction of a minute. Is it wrong to enjoy seeing people knocked down a few notches? Or a few hundred thousand notches?
- Then the other type of Roadshow case I love is when someone has haggled at a backyard sale, wheeling, and dealing. They’ve bargained the owner from $15 down to $10 for a strange vase. Only the appraiser points out it’s a rare vase. Turns out to be an undiscovered specimen from the Ming dynasty and is worth $250,000. Now THAT look on their face is priceless as well. Just about as priceless as their treasure.
There are a couple of stand outs of this latter case:
- 30 years ago, a card table sold for $25 at a yard sale; it recently sold for $541,500
- There’s the case of a Navaho blanket that sat on a family bed as a comforter. It was made around 1850; and is now appraised for $350,000-$500,000.
But I think my favorite Roadshow episode was on a recent recap edition of AR. A man brought in a 1914 Patek Philippe pocket watch. There are lots of those. But this one was different. It was literally handed down from great grandfather to grandfather to father to the current owner. What no one knew at the time is that it’s the ONLY one of its kind ever made.
This golf pocket watch had:
- Hour hand
- Second hand
- Split chronograph for timing two separate events
- A minute register for the chronograph
- A minute chime
That was on the front! Then, on the back of the watch had:
- Day of the week
- Moon phase
- Perpetual calendar which calculates for leap year
- Extra springs and crystals
- Encased in an 18-carat gold case
Absolute phenomenal mechanical specimen. How someone built all that functionality built with 1914 technology is hard to imagine!
The owner had the pocket watch appraised in 2004 for about $6,000. What he didn’t know, nor did the appraiser, was that it was one-of-a-kind. Now, any Patek Philippe watch is going to be pricey. But eventually, this was sold at auction. Its current value is estimated between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000.
While I stared in amazement at this incredible work of man, I was reminded of Phillip Johnson’s work on Intelligent Design. This profoundly brilliant law professor at UC Berkeley attacked traditional science’s view of evolution. He died just this month. And he would say that the likelihood that the world “happened” to come into being via evolution was as likely as that Patek Philippe pocket watch was a result of an explosion at the factory. Just not logical by any stretch of the imagination.
An intricate design requires an intelligent designer. That watch could never come into being on its own.
Just so, our world, the creation, we are the result of an intelligent designer. And that designer is Jesus.
Oh. Of course, the man sold the watch.