Challenge #00918-B187: Hidden Treasure

Going to the antiques roadshow and finding out the thing you meant to bring is junk… but what’s that hiding in the tissue paper? That little piece of junk that fell in the box is actually…

“But it’s been in my family for generations. My great-great-great-great-great grandmother paid three guineas for it.”

“I’m sorry, but your great-great-great-great-great grandmother was duped. This is a genuine fake. It was forged at the time she purchased it. See this shade of green? You just couldn’t get that shade of green in Malasian pottery at that time.” The appraiser began  rearranging the paper around it. “Some collectors will buy a genuine fake of this era, but… I wouldn’t hold my hopes up.”

A clatter as a little gewgaw fell from the newsprint.

“Oh hello,” said the appraiser. It looked like old bronze. The jewellery inside the fining was a cameo portrait in stone.

“Oh that? That’s just some carved Jasper. It usually winds up in the kid’s jewellery.”

The appraiser started giggling. “Do you know who this is a cameo of?”

Shrug. “Some girl?”

“This is a cameo of the princess Elisabeth Tudor. Collectors would go bonkers just to touch this. Someone gave it a lacquer coat between now and the time it was made. That’s what makes the gold look like bronze. They might have done so to disguise its value… and I can see it’s been effective. Semi-precious gemstones, especially layered ones like jasper, were common media for cameos like this. You get this cleaned and you could be looking at a half a million, easy. Better keep it out of the toy cupboard, eh?”

The woman who had brought in the china vase had fainted.


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