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21st Century Gold Rush

17 May 2016
gold bars

There is a TV programme on The Discovery Channel where brave, some would say crazy, men and women dive under the ice in search of gold that will make their fortune. 90% of the programme is watching the agony and near fatality of their failures. Then, just as all hope is lost, they will pop up with a nugget that is reportedly worth thousands and is the saviour of their diving business for another year. As a viewer, rather than smirk at their fool-hardy idealism, you begin wondering if you should set up your own diving for gold business, even though you have never been underwater, never mind under ice.

In many respects, TV programmes such as Flog it! and Antiques Roadshow produce similar mind-teasing moments of gold rush. There are always stories you hear of people going to car boot sales or looking in drawers and finding an item worth thousands. Just recently a London Cabbie sent his painting that he bought for £40 at a car boot sale to auction. He made a point of saying how he haggled the poor vendor down from £65. The cabbie was selling the rare painting by Harmindr Sahib because he fancied a new colour scheme in his house. The large Indian Gouache on paper miniature reached £75000 when the hammer fell at auction. Then, there is the Rolex watch found when clearing out a dead parent’s drawer. It was broken and clearly discarded by the owner but bought for £46000 at auction.

Each time you hear a story of mind-bending profit you think about waking up at 6am every Sunday morning and trawling the car boots in a 50 mile radius for your Bargain Hunt moment! Yet, the fact is, these monumental moments are news because they are rare. An antique, a vintage item, even a collectable is actually given the value it deserves by its scarcity and its desirability. The Rolex watch was one of only 618 ever made for the Italian Navy in World War 2. The image of the Golden Temple is the holiest complex in Sikh religion, so was a highly desirable image and the price was driven up by the demand of competing bidders.

So, when watching programmes such as Flog It! watch for the number of people in the crowd waiting for valuations. Take care to listen to the valuations that speak in terms of £10 or £20 and that flash of disappointment on the participant’s face when it is not ten thousand or twenty thousand pounds. But then, you will say, did you see that episode where a woman got thousands for a satirical print with a broken frame by Batement that she had hidden under the bed. And, with that, we all set our alarm clocks for 6am because the glint of gold is just in the next car boot field.

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