Do you ever fantasize that a “find” at a flea market might be a priceless antique or a valuable work of art? Because many of us do, the number of auction galleries, traveling appraisers, and TV shows that feature valuations and authentications increases every year. Karl Martin unknowingly bought a piece of 4,000-year-old pottery at a flea market and used it as his toothbrush holder until he learned about its history.
A pottery vessel adorned with the painting of an antelope caught Martin’s eye while he was browsing a yard sale. He bought the jar for about $3.00 and took it home to use in his bathroom. Years later, while helping unload a van at the Brenchley Auction House, Martin noticed the pottery had similar crudely painted animal figures. It turns out his toothbrush holder was a genuine artifact from Afghanistan dating back to 1900 B.C. to the Indus Valley Harappan civilization, one of the three cradles of civilizations (along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia) which thrived during the Bronze Age. The jar holding his toothbrush is at least 4,000 years old.
More often than not one person's throwaway becomes another person's throwaway. But there are exceptions. Here are some “finds” that fuel our fantasies:AFH
Andy Fields bought five childlike sketches at a Sin City garage sale. When he took them home he noticed one picture boasted a very young Andy Warhol signature. Sure enough they were sketches made by Warhol during his preteen years. They were valued at $2 million dollars.
Would you buy a wristwatch that doesn’t work and pay $38? It turns out it was a prop in a James Bond movie. The watch was worn by Sean Connery in the 1965 movie, Thunderball. It sold at Christies for $159,000.
In 1989, a Philadelphia man bought a grungy painting at a flea market for $4.00. While he was investigating a tear in the canvas, the frame broke apart and out fell a small folded document. To his surprise it proved to be one of 24 surviving copies of the original 1776 Declaration of Independence. It sold at auction for $2.42 million dollars
A woman bought a distinctive necklace at a Brooklyn flea market. It’s a rare piece of jewelry the sculptor Calder made only for members of his family. The one-of-a-kind necklace auctioned at Christie’s for $267,750. Not a bad return on investment for a $15.00 purchase!
My latest find is a bronze hanging sculpture of a dragon. It’s beautiful but as far as I know it’s worth only the scrap value of the bronze, the pleasure it affords me, plus the cost to repair the hole in the ceiling where its weight brought it crashing to the floor. I’m happy I bought it — hope springs eternal.
By the way, have you looked at your toothbrush holder closely?
Sources and Photo Credits: Hansons Auctioneers, Livescience.com