St Ives head teacher's 'paperweight' is a sculpture worth £80,000
A sculpture that normally sits on a St Ives head teacher's desk has been named "probably the most expensive paperweight in the world" after Antiques Roadshow experts valued it at £80,000.
St Ives School librarian Jan Wardman was shown beaming at the news as she presented the bronze Barbara Hepworth work to experts on the popular BBC TV programme on Sunday.
And after the show, St Ives School head David Harris revealed the sculpture was originally used by the school as a house prize when students performed well.
Tourists still flock to St Ives today to see Barbara Hepworth's large bronze Modernist sculptures in the Hepworth Memorial Garden. Another sits outside the Guildhall, home to St Ives Town Council and the visitor information centre.
But this smaller example of her work is not widely known and caused raised eyebrows when the Antiques Roadshow rolled into Falmouth.
Roadshow expert Rupert Maas said: "It's by Barbara Hepworth. This is English Modernism, you know. You cannot confuse it with anything else. It is very tactile and made of bronze. It's worth £60,000 to £80,000. And it's a very important thing. It's a seriously exciting find."
The valuation has come as a surprise to the school.
Mr Harris said: "It's sitting on my desk so it's probably the most expensive paperweight in the world.
"We have links to the art scene because we live and work in St Ives, so we knew it was valuable, but we'd not had it valued.
"We didn't know it was that valuable. It's the school's and it will remain the school's. It's a fabulous piece of work and it's something which we do treasure."
Mr Harris took the piece, called Oval Form, into the school's staff briefing on Monday morning to remind teachers what it looked like, but it normally sits on his desk.
Barbara Hepworth was a governor at the school many years ago and gave Oval Form as a gift. It was used as a prize for the house that got the most academic merits each term.