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Man Discovers That The Old Cup That He's Been Using as a Plinking Target Is Worth $99,000



When he was a boy, John Weber, 70, was given an old cup by his grandfather. He assumed that it was just a worthless piece of brass and occasionally used it for target practice with his air rifle. Eventually, Weber decided to have it appraised, and experts concluded that it was a 2,300-year old Persian gold cup of enormous value. It sold at auction for £50,000 in 2008.

Link via Say Uncle | Photo: Duke's Auctions

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I'm glad some people are agreeing with me. I just wonder what proof this guy has that he got it from his grandfather.

"It's 2000 years old - provenance would go back several hundred years" is a very naive way of looking at it. Plenty of items in museums have provenances that go back incredibly far, right to when they were excavated (or even left in the ground thousands of years ago).

Any item in a museum today that has "provenance unknown" was obtained illegally. In 2008, the Metropolitan returned the illegally excavated piece, the Euphronios krater. Collectors and curators of museums have been buying smuggled pieces for years, claiming ignorance of the piece's legal status.
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Sorry Mike, I didn't think to click on the picture credit right off. Guess I'm not as smart as you.

However, I have given the cup some serious thought. My education in History and Anthropology and my experience in museum collections sort of makes me wonder how and why something like a 2300 year old solid gold cup turns up in England.
The cup did not just appear in an ironmonger's shop all by itself. There are very few reputable dealers who would feel comfortable dealing with something like that cup knowing it can only be traced back to the 1930s. Someone dug it up--or bought it--or stole it.
But then this happened in England, home of the British Museum--one of the biggest collections of looted artifacts in the world. Maybe someone there tossed it out with the trash.
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David H.

Yes it took two clicks to get there vs. one....

I'm no expert in antiquities but I would assume the provenance of most of them is lost through the ages.
This is why metal testing is done along with matching the symbols and the manufacturing method.

Seriously give it some thought; The item is over 2000 years old. If you were to have provenance it would
span 100's of generations.
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Mike B.

I checked the link and found nothing but basically the same information that was posted here. After your reply, I noticed the photo credits link and found the information you cited.
There STILL is a serious lack of provenance. The cup was made 2300 years ago. I'll buy the materials analysis. But there is still the gap from its manufacture date and location (Persian empire, circa 300 BCE) and its appearance in an ironmonger's inventory in Taunton, UK circa 1935. It did not just walk there. Where did Mr Sparks obtain it? Bet you it was looted grave goods.
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Interesting. I recently dug-up collectibles I amassed when I was a youngster back in the early 90s. I collected Hockey, Baseball, Magic: The Gathering, Disney Collectors and Impel Star Trek trading cards. I also have two model Aqua Velva race cars, a first issue of the Dragonball Z comic series and a Jonny Lightning NCC-1701 Red Alert! action figure. Being that 20 years has passed since acquiring some of these objects, I thought I'd assess their value.

I remember at the time a big push from my parents to hang onto rare cards that I was lucky enough to find in unopened packages. I could have sole my 90-91 Upper Deck Jaromir Jagr rookie card for $20 when I first got it, but I kept it in a card-protector for 20 years and now the thing is valued at about $1. To drive the point further, Grant Fuhr, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Theoron Fleury, these cards were worth about $0.05 and a slew of people are trying to sell them for about $1/ea. on ebay. I went through my other collectibles and discovered the same gross depreciaton in value.

The only exception was the Magic cards, some of which are now worth $60-80. I also noticed that Hockey cards distributed in 2007 have a lot more market value than those from the 90s. My suspicion is that marketters made a big push for "collectibles" through 90-95 and anything anyone collected during that time is worthless because so many others have them. You can purchase the complete 90-91 Upper Deck hockey set in near-mint condition for $10 on ebay.

Which brings me to my girlfriends World Stamp Collection with stamps dated 1948-1955. I thought for sure there would be some value in this, but a similar thing must have happened with stamp collecting in the 1950s. Older stamps are worth thousands of dollards, but stamps (from all over the world) between 1950 and 1955 are basically worthless.
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