Antiques Roadshow Said Jug Is Worth $50K. Uh, Nope

It was actually made by a high school student in 1970s
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2016 12:32 PM CDT
Oops: Antiques Roadshow Thought Teen's Weird Jug Was Worth $50K
In this Feb. 24, 2016, photo taken in Bend, Ore., Betsy Soule shows some of the pottery she created in middle school and high school in the early 1970s.   (Ryan Brennecke/The Bulletin via AP)

It's "rare" for Antiques Roadshow to make a mistake when appraising items, Time notes, but it does happen—and it happened in January in a big way. The show took a look at an item it calls "Grotesque Face Jug," a jug with bizarre faces on it that antiques broker Alvin Barr found in a barn at an estate sale and bought for $300. Stephen Fletcher, an appraiser on the show, acknowledged that "it's a little difficult to identify precisely when this was made," the Washington Post reports, but ultimately estimated its worth at between $30,000 and $50,000. He guessed that it was likely created in the late 19th or early 20th century on the East Coast, but was a little off: It was actually created in 1973 or 1974 by then-student Betsy Soule at Churchill High School in Eugene, Ore.

An old friend recognized the jug on the show and called Soule, and together they submitted evidence to the show proving she was the actual creator. Soule, who considered a career in the arts before going on to become a horse trainer, told the Bend Bulletin back in March that she's not sure how exactly the jug got from her possession to the barn where Barr found it. Antiques Roadshow officially corrected its estimate of the jug's worth in February, with Fletcher admitting, "I was fooled, as were some of my colleagues." His new estimate of the jug's worth: between $3,000 and $5,000, "based on its quality and artistic merit." Barr is far from disappointed: "I hated it when it was $30,000 to $50,000, because who wants $30,000 to $50,000 lying around their house?" he said, noting that he had it packed away for safekeeping after the show. "Now, it's on my table, and I love it." (Here's a much more valuable Antiques Roadshow discovery.)

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