Start searching your attics!

PUBLISHED: 13:09 19 April 2011 | UPDATED: 21:33 20 February 2013

Think you have a rare antique that may make you rich? Antiques expert Curtis Dowling tells you what you should do

Think you have a rare antique that may make you rich? Antiques expert Curtis Dowling tells you what you should do




Where do you go, who do you see if you think you have uncovered a valuable item in your attic?
With the Antiques Roadshow in its 32nd year its almost unbelievable that people are still turning up priceless treasures in their own homes. Our access to information is, of course, far greater now than in 1979 when the Roadshow took its fledgling steps but this can be more of a hindrance than a help. There are art and antiques dealers up and down the country who spend every day telling good natured customers that it may look like the one in the magazine sir, but can I assure you it is not.
If you think you have something lurking in the attic, firstly photograph it from every angle. Then take it to your local auction house, local antiques show, and email it to whatever society, or club, you can find online who have members who collect your particular type of item. ALWAYS get at least three opinions. You dont want that valuable Van Gogh going for a song do you?


How likely is it you have found something of value?
Once in a while there turns up a truly valuable sleeper.
In art and antique speak that is a lost treasure that is either in a box in the attic, or has been wrongly attributed.
Remember the vase before Christmas selling for many millions of pounds?
Or a painting that hangs on a wall in a museum that everyone calls Dutch school that turns out to be by Vermeer. its out there, trust me - so get rummaging.


When should people get excited? If you come across something, your first task is to see if you can find anything like it. This could be in a Millers guide, but the chances of finding anything exactly like yours is remote as, remember, the term antiques really means anything thats very old and that means trillions of items. Keep calm until you find out how rare your item is (get those three opinions) or, even better, if you are selling it, the cheque is in your hand.


Presumably you have come across people who have found some rare antiques?
The famous vase that sold in London for 53 million last year is the kind of discovery that gives people hope as they look through their shed, garage and attic. In the past 12 months I have seen surface from ordinary homes the following items: a Chippendale bureau in a farmers hay barn, near Pin Mill, which sold for 320,000. A small Gainsborough oil painting, from near Lavenham which sold for 120,000 and, sweetest of all, a complete Wedgewood dinner service made for a royal family abroad turning up still boxed in a warehouse in Harwich.been valued at 50,000 but the family love it and have decided to keep it.




When Curtis Dowling is not lecturing around the world or appearing on television, he is hunting out fine art and antiques fakes and forgeries. With over 20 years experience in fine art and antiques, Curtiss niche area of fakes and forgeries has seen him in demand to not only authenticate great masters including multi-million pound Picassos, but also to test the market using many skills learned first hand with master fakers and forgers.

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