Assigning the piece a hefty appraisal of $50,000 was a mistake made by Stephen Fletcher and a small group of colleagues. At first, they named it “bizarre and wonderful,” and estimated that it had probably been created in the late 19th to early 20th century. The show makes it clear the the appraisals are “verbal approximations of value” and they always include as much context as they can, and to be fair, this is a very rare incident.
In reality, the strange jug was made in an Oregon high school art class in the 1970s. A friend recognized the piece made by her friend, Betsy Soule, who came forward and claimed the piece as her own. It was immediately re-appraised for $3,000 to $5,000.
The experts were fooled because the technique used was similar to a style of jug that was popular in the 19th century in the U.S., and they are highly collectible.
Fletcher explained that “the techniques of making pottery, in many ways, haven’t changed for centuries…Still, not bad for a high schooler in Oregon.”
The owner of the jug was relieved to hear the news now that he knows the objects true value. He had paid $300 for the jug at an estate sale, but when he discovered that it was worth $50,000, he packaged it up and put it away to protect it. But now that it’s worth a lot less, he feels comfortable displaying the piece in his home. Setting it on a table, he is able to enjoy the unique jug without worrying over it getting broken or damaged.
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