Attics, Auctions, Appraisers and Reality TV
Some of the most popular shows on TV deal with the search, the find, and the big money-making discovery or its sale at the end of the episode. Most of the time, everyone is happy --- in theory. We become glued to the program thinking "that something of great value is lurking somewhere in the house". TV reality series such as Cash in the Attic, Antique Road Show, Auction Kings, Pawn Stars, and The Pickers are catapulting viewers to local auction houses, estate sales, and to their own storage rooms.
In reality, most of the series focus on common folks who live in an ordinary home living everyday lives who are clueless about their surroundings or their possessions. This is the theme for Cash in the Attic when the homeowner must have money for something that has become a problem within their lives. The scenario happens when the television host along with the professional and well-meaning appraiser arrives and the search begins. The appraiser's job is to locate some "lost artifact of worth" and provide an estimate of a possible fortune to be had.
The theme is played about the same within each of the different reality series. An item is either brought by the owner, bought at auction, or found by the appraiser and the suspense begins to build. We at home furtively glance around the room and search the reservoir of our memories for something that would benefit our own coffers. Once you hear that the bedraggled teddy bear or pottery vase with the house painted on it could be worth thousands, and you then remember that you have a similar object stored in the back of the closet. Assumed riches now cloud your reality. In most cases, it is like having a lottery ticket with only four of the drawn numbers. However life's realities are not like in the series when the teddy bear and/or vase brought five times the value and everyone is not only shocked but now seem to be floating in a sea of wealth.
The sad reality is 98% of most homes do not have cash in their attics or lost Rembrandts hanging on their walls. Also, the amounts mentioned in the series are many times hypothetical and/or does not reflect the net proceeds to the seller. There are auction fees, finder fees, appraisal fees, and other unknown variables that affect the bottom line that are not discussed or disclosed. And most important, not all auctions are equal nor are appraisers.
Yes, we are called and clients bring their carefully wrapped "object of wealth" to our office to be appraised. Like the majority of common folks with common place, every day items, we have not seen anything that would bring a Brink's armored truck to carefully sequester the item to safety. For example, a client had recently seen a show that spotlighted a face jug from the Abner and John Landrum potteries in the Edgefield, South Carolina region attributed to "Dave the Potter" that was valued at $30,000. The series did not mention the fact that the glaze and clay had to be tested or that the artist's initials had to researched and authenticated. Our client's face jug was just a nice jug, not from South Carolina and was worth under $500.00.
Keep the fantasies alive, watch the programs, enjoy the joy of others, and keep the search alive. You might be one of the 2% out there who just might have a lost treasure hiding in the attic and/or closet.