When Doug Huber went on the Antiques Roadshow, he thought the five antique cups he had in his possession might have some value, but he had no idea how valuable they actually were. Huber’s cups were libation cups made of rhinoceros horn. Libation cups were used for ceremonial purposes ages ago, according to PBS. Huber said he started collecting the cups on a trip to Bath, England, in the 1970s. He paid $500 for his first cup. Huber said he collected them because he likes the way they feel.
The expert on the show Lark. E. Mason said the pieces were likely made in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mason said they had a cumulative conservative value of about $1.5 million. Mason said his estimate was conservative because of volatility in the China antiques market. At that time, the Chinese were the biggest collectors of artifacts made from rhino horn. When Huber heard Mason’s valuation, he sat in disbelief.
When he finally spoke he said, “I won’t have to depend on just Social Security, I guess.” As the value began to sink in, he said, “ I need an inhaler, and I don't even have asthma. I knew it'd be good, but I didn't know it'd be that good.”
When Mason appraised the cups in 2011, they were the highest appraisal at that time on Antiques Roadshow, according to PBS. Huber decided to auction his cups off at Sotheby’s and only two of them sold at that time due to regulations China had put in place on the sale and importation of items made from rhinoceros horn.
Watch the full appraisal in the video below.