Monday, August 9, 2010
Antiques Roadshow - The Good The Bad and The Ugly
I would like to say my object was worth a million dollars and that I’m moving to a tropical island. I would like to say that but it would be lying. We drove to Des Moines, Iowa and saw the Roadshow live and in person on August 7, 2010. The drive was over six hours so this was something we really wanted to do. Was it worth it? In some ways yes and in others no. Was it what I expected? In some ways yes and in others no.
When we arrived at Hy-Vee Hall I was surprised at how little hoopla surrounding the event. There were not a lot of huge signs, scalpers or snow cone venders. They did have a stream of people and objects going into the hall. The volunteers were pleasant and did a good job of getting us to the right place. Although the line was long, it moved very quickly and the people were polite and did not seem to mind waiting. I amused myself by looking at the people with the biggest items. These included a plane prop longer then I am tall and a huge copper bust three times as big as an ordinary head. I would like to have seen more items in line but most people boxed their items. They did have reruns of the show projected on screens throughout the room without sound but with sub-titles. The hall served sandwiches and snacks at a concession stand but nothing worth mentioning.
After the two hour wait in the first line we arrived at a tables with volunteers who divided us into categories. The objects we brought were silver, collectibles and a painting. Toys, posters, paintings and collectibles had the longest lines and silver and Asian art were the shortest lines. Up until this point the organization of the event and the demeanor of all the people involved were surprising excellent. Our tickets were for 3:00 p.m. and the first tickets were for 8:00 a.m. so everyone working for the show had to be tired by the time we got to them.
The set was surrounded by blue screens that formed a large circle. The long lines for each appraisal table were outside the blue screens, thus not visible to the tv viewer. I was surprised how open the set was. The filming was done right in the middle of all the appraisal tables that ringed the set. While we were in the "inside" line for paintings, Mark Walberg taped the introduction. Who knows maybe I will be in the background? The filming of objects selected for TV was done right in the middle of all the commotion.
I was also surprised that everyone I wanted to see was in the hall, Nicholas Lowry (or as my wife and I call him Penn since he looks like Penn from Penn and Teller), a Keno brother (or maybe both since they do look alike) and Noel Barrett were all there as well as most of the people you see on television every week
The experts sat behind a desk with a couple of books and most had a laptop computer. At each table were two to four experts. When an opening was available you would walk up to the appraiser. As I mentioned the filming took place at tables in the middle of the blue screened circle. Although items were filmed while I was there, I did not see an initial appraisal of an item that made it on to the television.
The first table we went to was the painting table. My wife who brought a painting, felt the appraiser seemed a bit short and disinterested. She felt some of the other experts were more engaged in their work of the day.
At this point I went to the silver table. This was fortunate since silver had only three people in line. I believe my expert was Nicholas Dawes. He was polite and spent a lot of time with me. I should point out there was no line at that point. Clearly my items did not “wow” him but he was still patient and explained things. He did suggest items that he felt would be good seek out that were similar to the items I collected. He also suggested a museum in New York I might like to go to.
The next stop was collectibles. My wife got in line first when I left for silver. Apparently a man had a seizure in the line next to her, and had to be taken out by ambulance. Another guest took pictures of him and was escorted out of the Roadshow (pictures are not allowed past the initial appraisal point and this man was taking pictures of everything. As for other odd events I heard a big piece of glass break and that certainly caused my heart to go out to someone.
At Collectibles my wife was happier with her appraiser, Mark Moran who said her item was not terribly valuable but was “cool”. He spent a fair amount of time discussing the item with her and suggesting ways she could determine a value on her own. The collectibles booth was my biggest disappointment of the show. I brought a medal with connections to the White House. I did my homework and could not find any idea of the value of the item on line. That is why I brought it to the show. The appraiser said after only a moment that he had not seen a similar item and thus could not give a value. I was very disappointed. I understand he was in a hurry and had a lot of people in line but he did not seem to make much of an effort. I would have been happy if he at least could point me in the right direction of another appraiser or dealer I could ask. I understand it was late in the day and there was a line but this was a disappointment.
If I were to go again I would certainly choose my items better. Rather then bringing collections of things I would bring my best item. I considered my collection of presidential items as one item. They did not. Also, they do not have the time to really consider a number of items. I also would not choose an item for which I could not find any information on the web. After all, these folks are doing a lot of the same research you and I would do. If I can’t find a similar item there is a good chance in two minutes they can’t either.
Was it worth the drive? For a one time adventure? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes, as long as I don’t have to drive six plus hours. Did it exceed my expectations? No, the appraisers are to busy to do real research. It also provided no opportunity to meet the appraisers or watch the appraisals of other items. I should also note that thousands of people go through each Roadshow stop. Only a few items are selected, The odds of even being considered for television are very low. That being said maybe we will get lucky. My wife and I visited the feedback booth and might be in the background of some appraisal so look for us. I would have also liked to see an Antiques Roadshow t-shirt stand. I am looking forward to watching the show now that I have the insider's scoop on what really goes on. I would love to see a behind-the-scenes show as well. From listening to Mark tape the introductions, we discovered the Des Moines shows will start off the season in January.