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Student Art Project Gets Mighty High Appraisal

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we go from frocks to antiques. Have you ever watched the PBS program "Antiques Roadshow"? If so you know that the best part is that moment when guests learn just how much that old painting or family heirloom from the attic is really worth. It turns out that appraising antiques is a tricky thing. Oregon antiques dealer Alvin Barr brought to the show a very unique piece of pottery he'd found in an estate sale.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANTIQUES ROADSHOW")

ALVIN BARR: It was up in a barn. It was covered with dirt and straw, looked like some chicken droppings were on. It was very dirty.

MARTIN: But when he uncovered the jug and saw it decorated by six gargoyle faces all different protruding from each side, Barr says he had to have it, and then he heard the appraisal.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ANTIQUES ROADSHOW")

STEPHEN FLETCHER: Somebody might well ask in the area between 30 and $50,000 for this.

BARR: What?

FLETCHER: It's just an amazing thing.

BARR: No.

FLETCHER: Well, that's my opinion.

(LAUGHTER)

BARR: I thought I overpaid. I paid $300 for it.

FLETCHER: It would appear in our opinion that you didn't overpay.

MARTIN: Sadly that estimation did not last long.

BETSY SOULE: An old friend called me up and told me that I had to get on the web and watch the "Antiques Roadshow" 'cause my pot was on it.

MARTIN: That's Betsy Soule, a horse trainer from Eugene, Ore., who was something of a precocious potter with a penchant for Pablo Picasso and medieval artwork in her high school days.

SOULE: I don't know where those gargoyles all came from. I just liked weird faces.

MARTIN: She instantly recognized the mystery jug.

SOULE: It was my favorite pot, and I had lost track of it so many years ago. I just never thought it would resurface anywhere.

MARTIN: So there was a bit of a markdown, but the joy of rediscovering your long lost high school artwork on national television, priceless. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.