Dear Dr. Boli: Do you know anything about antiques? I just found an old terra cotta cup under the basement stairs, and I was wondering whether it’s worth anything. —Sincerely, A Man Cleaning House in Troy Hill.
Dear Sir: Although the description you provide is somewhat sketchy, Dr. Boli believes that what you have found is probably the Holy Grail. There are a number of indications that lead to this conclusion. First, it is a known fact that Troy Hill is home to the most concentrated aggregation of Christian relics in the world. It is only to be expected that some of them will occasionally be forgotten and left in basements once in a while. Second, the most common material for cups these days is plastic, but plastic was rarely used in the first century A.D.; pottery, however, was exceedingly common. Third, the fact that you seem to have no memory of how the cup came to be in your basement is a strong indicator. According to the best sources, the Holy Grail has a well-documented habit of appearing in closed rooms with no apparent means of entrance.
As for what it may be worth, Dr. Boli is not a licensed appraiser of antiques, and cannot offer a professional opinion. He can, however, offer you an educated guess, which would be that the object is worth very little money. The Holy Grail is a spiritual good rather than a material one, and spiritual goods are not much valued in the present market. It will make a good conversation piece, however, if you display it on your mantel, perhaps with a small plaque nearby.