The beloved TV program Antiques Roadshow has seen its fair share of unique items and emotional revelations over the years. While some of the items featured are just family heirlooms with nothing more than sentimental value, others are so rare that they leave their owners in disbelief.
On one very special episode, a woman brought in a sculpture she’d inherited after her mother passed away. She had no idea what to expect, but when the appraiser got a good look at the craftsmanship on the piece, his reaction left them both stunned…
Lark Mason has been a professional appraiser for the television show Antiques Roadshow since 1996, and when it comes to Chinese art and antiques, there aren’t many people more knowledgeable.
Lark travels the world appraising antique collections and speaking on ancient Chinese history. Ever since he joined the Antiques Roadshow family, his popularity has substantially grown.
Lark’s seen his fair share of valueless items, but he’s also been privy to some unbelievable finds. However, his reaction to one sculpture in particular during one episode of the show was completely unexpected…
Lark was asked to appraise a small marble Chinese statue of a lion that a woman brought in one afternoon. Since Chinese art was Lark’s specialty, he jumped at the chance to offer his professional opinion on its value.
The guest told Lark that her grandparents originally bought the statue while traveling through China decades earlier, and she eventually inherited it after her mother passed away.
At the time, she was informed by a friend that the sculpture likely came from the ancient Ming dynasty hundreds of years ago. She was intrigued, but would it prove to be an impeccable piece of history—or was it just a fake?
Lark was quick to point out that, although the sculpture was an ancient Chinese relic, it actually originated during the Tang dynasty sometime between the sixth and ninth centuries. That meant it was much older than the guest initially believed it to be!
The Tang dynasty is widely considered to be China’s most prosperous period. Cosmopolitan culture and art flourished, and this era brought a great deal of progress and stability to China.
Lion sculptures were commonly found in front of palaces, tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of the wealthy during the Tang dynasty. People believed their presence had special protective benefits.
Now, right in Antiques Roadshow‘s studio, Lark had the opportunity to appraise one of these incredible artifacts in person. And his unusual reaction spoke volumes…
Lark actually began to tear up while discussing the beauty and importance of this work of art. While his emotional reaction was certainly some measure of the statue’s value, the big question remained: how much was it really worth?
The first thing Lark pointed out was the sculpture’s fine craftsmanship. Everything was incredibly proportionate, and there weren’t any jagged edges sticking out of the lion’s body. It was made of the finest marble at the time.
He slowly spun the statue around so the camera could capture a 360-degree view of the work. Whoever carved this was a master at their job, and they most likely crafted other exceptional pieces, as well.
The woman was fascinated by Lark’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the item; she didn’t expect a reaction like that at all! Little did she know, there was much more excitement to come…
Lark pointed out the incredible amount of detail carved into the lion. You could actually see the rippling muscles in the shoulders and legs of the animal. These were details that Lark had rarely seen on a sculpture so old before…
Lark examined the marble base of the statue, too. Often, an antique’s foundation is weathered by time, but this particular example was in mint condition. Lark could not say enough great things about this item.
Looking closely, you could actually see the individual chisel work on the base. To think that hundreds of years ago this statue was in the hands of a master Chinese marble carver was truly something special!
The statue’s owner couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She knew the marble lion was special, but she had no idea just how deep its history went. She couldn’t wait to find out its value.
When Lark walked into work on that particular day, he had no idea he’d actually handle something so valuable. Can you guess what the dollar value of this artwork really was?
If you can believe it, Lark estimated the statue’s worth was a whopping $120,000! The woman was blown away by the number, and although she had no intentions of selling it, it was nice to know how rare it was.
Sometimes the items we inherit have a much richer history than we ever could have imagined. This marble lion surely made Lark Mason’s day—and probably his week! Just watch his reaction as he realized its value…
The next time you stumble across something unique in your storage space, you should call up Antiques Roadshow and have it appraised. You never know how much it’s worth!
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