BBC Antiques Roadshow guest stunned as cheap thrift item ends up worth small fortune

Antiques Roadshow
The guest couldn't believe the find was worth a small fortune -Credit:BBC

An Antiques Roadshow guest was left gobsmacked when a textile she'd scooped up cheap at a Minnesota thrift store turned out to be worth a bundle.

The popular BBC show, which recently stopped off in Minnesota, has locals presenting quirky or interesting items in the hope that they are actually valuable hidden gems. One lady presented expert James Ffrench with a charming textile piece she found for a steal at a charity shop.

She recounted passionately: "I always look for linens and needlework because it interests me and I like to study and appreciate it." Further stating her respect for women's handiwork, she said: "I have a lot of appreciation for women who have done needlework and this kind of stuck out to me."

At first, Ffrench thought it was a typically powerful 20th-century Scandinavian-inspired textile according to the Mirror. However, a comprehensive review revealed there was more complexity than initially met the eye.

Ffrench noted the delicate details, saying: "There's an incredible subtlety to the colouration and the way this is woven and put together."

He confessed his surprise, saying: "So I was thinking: 'Gosh, you know, really this is better than most' and intrigued myself."

The real surprise came when he saw it was signed, unusual for commercial pieces. "This is signed with the initials 'MMF' which stands for a woman named Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom who was probably the leading textile designer and producer in Sweden in the early 20th Century."

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Maas-Fjetterstrom began her career as a painter, establishing a workshop in 1918 where she designed textiles, curtain fabrics, rugs and carpets. "She was of such prominence that she designed and manufactured the rugs that are used for the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm, so she's really a designer of some note", Ffrench added.

"Typically in the market, we come across pieces of hers that are quite large. I've never seen a handwoven, flat-weave textile of this size coming from her and the quality backs up with the initials."

When Ffrench asked if its owner had any idea of how much it was worth, she responded: "Absolutely not. I knew it was worth the dollar that I paid for it, just to have something to study, because it was so interesting."

He then concluded: "Right, because I would say, within the popularity of Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom things on the market today, because it's really coming on quite strong, I would place a retail value on a piece like this today of somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000."

The guest inhaled sharply, eyes bulging, before emitting a loud groan, evidently speechless. Ffrench quipped, "Certainly worth a dollar investment", prompting the guest to eventually burst out with: "Oh my goodness!"

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