Antiques don’t just provide a décor aesthetic; they remind us that everything has a history—and a price. It can be surprising to learn the value of seemingly ordinary items that we often overlook.
It’s no wonder that so many people enjoy watching PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, whose appraisers help the owners of rare and precious items identify the history and value behind some of their belongings. Most of the time, it’s the owner who’s delighted to learn the backstory behind their items, but for one particular antique—an old blanket with a storied past—it wasn’t just the owner who was blown away.
When this special item was brought onto the show, the appraiser could immediately tell that it was going to be an exciting conversation as soon as he caught a glimpse of it…
Unless you’re already born into an extremely wealthy family, just about everybody dreams of the day that they can suddenly become incredibly rich almost overnight. Who wouldn’t want to be able to relieve their financial woes by winning the lottery or discovering a rare—and valuable—find?
For a lot of folks, it’s easy to feel at least somewhat hopeful when you live in a house with an attic or basement full of old “junk.” Sure, most of it is probably worthless, but what if just one thing wasn’t? That’s all it would take!
Every once in a while, you’ll hear a story of somebody finding something valuable that was previously collecting dust in their home—such as an expensive piece of jewelry or a long-lost artistic masterpiece—and making a fortune once they realized its value!
That’s pretty much what happened to one man in 2016. An old blanket had been in his family for years, but considering that he admitted to frequently sitting on it, it was clear that he didn’t think it could have been worth much.
When this man brought in his blanket to be appraised on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, he didn’t know much about its history—except that 19th-century Wild West legend Kit Carson had allegedly gifted it to his mother’s foster father.
It should be noted that the detail about Kit Carson was no small thing. As a 19th-century frontiersman (among many other impressive titles), his incredible exploits led to him being the subject of several legends, tall tales, and dime novels.
Yet the story behind this seemingly unremarkable (to the naked eye, at least) artifact gets even more incredible. As it turned out, the item was a Navajo First Phase Chief’s blanket made between 1840 and 1860.
Spinning and weaving wool into clothing—as well as, of course, blankets—was an early staple of Navajo life, eventually turning into a highly respected art form and creativity in its own right.
Appraiser Donald Ellis, who owns a gallery of North American Indian Art in Ontario, Canada, called the man’s blanket “Navajo weaving in its purest form” that was in “unbelievable” condition. The man suspected it was Navajo, but he didn’t know how valuable it was!
Yet it was when Donald told the man what the blanket was worth that had him tearing up. Even if you don’t care one bit about antiques, watching this man learn about the life-changing amount of money he was about to receive is incredibly emotional!
Could you imagine if your grandmother’s old throw blanket was actually worth that much money? Those stripes have seen more of this country than any one person could experience in a lifetime.
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