Antiques Roadshow uncovers real purpose of mystery ‘doorstop’

Antiques Roadshow: Rat deterrent from 1600s valued at £6000

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In a classic episode of the beloved BBC series, Fiona Bruce and the team headed to Polesden Lacey in Surrey where guests arrived with their curiosities hoping to be sitting on a small fortune. One guest in particular was shocked to discover the real purpose of her mystery object. 

Known in the auction world as being among the top Asian art specialists, John Axford was “delighted” when one guest arrived with what he described as “a proper mystery object.”

The orb-shaped item was presented to the excited expert during the Roadshow’s visit to Surrey.

And while the Guest showed pride in her antique, she didn’t seem confident in knowing what the object actually was. 

Recognising the ceramic ball immediately, John began to ask puzzled onlookers what they thought the item could be used for.

“Not a bowling ball,” said the expert, laughing in response to one onlooker.

“Not Faberge,” he added with excitement, hinting that the object was far more niche for anybody to recognise. 

As the guest waited with anticipation, John revealed the object was in fact a deterrent for rats.

After some surprised murmurs from the guest and onlookers in the background, John explained: “This is made in Turkey. It does have a proper name, it’s called a Yumurta.

“It hangs on a chain in a Mosque and stops the rats eating the candles.”

The guest was speechless, but intrigued to hear more about her mysterious ball. 

John went on to explain that “Yumurta” is in fact Turkish for “egg” and it symbolised ostrich eggs that would be brought back from Mecca.

When asked how the item came to be in the guest’s possession, she told the art specialist it was her Aunt’s, before admitting “she was using it as a doorstop.”

John began laughing at the object and all of the purposes people assumed it to have along with the real function itself. 

“Bowling ball. Doorstop. Rat deterrent,” the expert listed with a grin. “It’s amazing!” he exclaimed as the guest and onlookers joined him in laughing at the object’s absurdity.

John went on to reveal the item dated back to the 1600s. 

“Very old,” he told the guest, adding the item was “very rare.”

As the specialist alluded to its value, the perplexed guest looked on with fascination.

He went on to admit though it was not as “rare or desirable” as it could have been, had it been made a few years earlier. He inspected the item’s design further, recognising the details having been made in either Iznik or Kütahya.

As the guest and surrounding audience waited with anticipation, John revealed the item to have a value between £4,000 and £6,000. 

Taken aback, the guest gasped in shock at how much the item was worth.

“Oh my god,” she said, holding her hands to her chest, dumbfounded at the bombshell valuation. 

“Have you got a chair?” she asked John jokingly, insinuating she needed to sit down from the news. 

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