Antiques Roadshow was in Indianapolis on this week’s episode, and despite there being items like a Norman Rockwell self-portrait and a Richard Nixon autograph, the biggest highlight of the night was a vase. “Me and my wife were shopping at a local Goodwill,” the man who brought it in explained. “I saw it sitting on the shelf, and I thought, ‘Aw, it’s so beautiful.’ And I knew it was good quality, but I knew nothing about it, so I picked it up and looked, it had markings. And I thought, ‘Well, I don’t know who it is, but for $4.99, I’m going to buy it.’”
The appraiser, David Rago, explained that it was made by the Overbeck sisters of Indiana. All born in the late 19th century, they have had their work featured in various museums around the country.
This work is of the Arts and Crafts movement, which started around 1880 and concluded by 1920. It was a response to the Industrial Revolution — artists like the Overbeck sisters were frustrated by mass-produced decorative arts and attempted to recapture the quality of medieval craftsmanship. One feature of the movement was an appreciation for nature, something this vase showcases.
“So they’ve conventionalized a tree there with bare geometric minimum,” Rago pointed out. “It’s such a great example of their work. It’s colorful, it’s matte-painted, it’s hand-thrown, it’s tooled, it fired very well. Virtually every side fired evenly, which is a technical achievement.”
So you’ve got the backstory of how it was found and why it’s good. The big question that still remains: How much is it worth? Turns out quite a bit.
“At auction, it would bring somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000,” estimated Rago. “I can’t believe that,” said the very happy vase owner. “I mean, it’s a seriously, seriously good piece of Overbeck,” Rago continued. “It’s got everything it’s got to have, this one’s got it.” “Feel my heart thumping,” the owner responded, smiling.
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