A guest on PBS' "Antiques Roadshow" didn't know much about the old blanket left in his possession, but he did know that the foster father of his grandmother had received it as a gift from Kit Carson, a frontier legend in the 19th century.
That, at least partially explains antique expert Donald Ellis' obvious excitement on the following edition of "Antiques Roadshow." Ontario gallery owner Donald Ellis surprises the guest by calling the blanket "very, very valuable" at the time it was made, which was likely between 1840 and 1860, and praises the piece's "pure linear design."
Ellis, whose gallery deals in North American Indian art, reveals that the gentleman is in possession of a Navajo First Phase Chief's Blanket. He says the piece shows "Navajo weaving in its purest form" and describes its condition as "unbelievable." He adds that the blanket on a really bad day is worth $350,000, and on a good day about $500,000.
"I had no idea — it was just laying on the back of a chair," the astounded gentleman says.
"When you walked in with this, I just about died," confesses appraiser Ellis in the video. According to a Daily Finance story, there are fewer than 50 of these blankets still in existence.
With the Kit Carson provenance? The value could go up 20 percent, Ellis estimates. Daily Finance reports that Ellis eventually sold the piece to the Detroit Institute of Arts for an undisclosed amount.
In addition to making an impact on Ellis and the blanket owner, this episode of "Antiques Roadshow" also changed the life of a male viewer who realized he had a similar blanket. Read the story of L.T., a man with financial struggles who noticed he had a family blanket that looked similar to the one in the following episode. L.T.'s blanket ended up selling for $1.8 million at auction.