Finally, the day had arrived! It was the morning of Antiques Roadshow! I had literally been waiting for years for this day! (Yeah, get it out… If you must say to yourself what a huge nerd I am, so be it! I can take it – I know I’m a nerd.)
We had the 8 am time slot and the instructions said to arrive at the venue a half hour before your scheduled time. That would be 7:30 am. We ate breakfast and headed out, arriving in plenty of time (Of course! Because we had made sure we knew how to get there the day before!) We parked and walked into the expo center, getting mentally prepared for “The Long Wait…” I even brought snacks… Jon is not very patient about crowds and lines, so I made sure to prep him on the fact that there would be crowds and there would be lines, and I explained that he had decided he wanted to go, so I had better not hear any complaining….
Other people were walking in too, and as we passed several of them, we checked out their items. I can’t help it – I walk fast – I learned from my father who has much longer legs than I do. I had to keep up with dad or I might have gotten singled out by the lions as the weak gazelle. Ok, maybe it’s not as dramatic as all that – I just walk fast. We saw all sorts of neat things – an antique chair, vases, a metal model car in a big glass case, but of course, nothing would be as valuable as my items!
We got to the entrance and they tore our tickets and let us in to the staging area… The first room was set up with a huge snaking queue line. There are signs indicating the entrance time, and then you snake back and forth until you get to the beginning of the line. Since it was still early in the morning, the line really hadn’t gotten very long yet… So far, so good.
At the beginning of that first line, we found several volunteers who are there do to a preliminary assessment of your items. The appraisal area is divided out by categories and the volunteers take a quick look at your items and assign them to categories. We showed the gal our artist proof print (Posters and Prints), my bracelet (Jewelry), my great grandmother’s glass cosmetic jar with a silver lid (Silver), and my father-in-law’s small glass vase with the silver inlay (Silver). Once we were assessed, another volunteer took us into the main room. They don’t allow any photos inside the main area, so you will just have to imagine it for yourselves (hopefully I can do justice with a verbal explanation…
When you enter, you see a big circle in the center of the room with the Antiques Roadshow royal blue curtains hung all around. There are spaces between each curtain and the category lines begin in this area. At that point, you pick a line and wait until a volunteer comes to collect you. Then you are in the main appraisal area. The appraisal tables are set up around the perimeter of the circle, and the filming area is set up in the middle. There are also big flat screen TVs hung up around the center area to give you a good view of any filming that is going on in the filming area while you wait. The volunteer who collected you at the category line drops you off to wait in another short line at the appraisal table. There wasn’t much of a wait in the line we were in, so before we knew it, it was time for an appraisal!
The appraisals are brief (I wasn’t really expecting anything different) – if the appraiser doesn’t know the manufacturer or anything about your item, they aren’t going to do much research as you stand there. We went to the silver category first. The appraiser let me know that my great grandmother’s cosmetic jar isn’t worth that much, other than the sentimental value, but that it was made in the 1890s by an American manufacturer (he couldn’t say which one). He also explained that it would have once been part of a set (long ago lost, I assume, since I was only given the one jar).
Next he took a look at Jon’s dad’s “Louis XIV” vase (as he likes to call it); the one he picked up for a steal at the Goodwill where he worked in the 1960s. The appraiser didn’t know who made it, but he did know it was American made, not French, turn of the last century (1890-1910), not Louis XIV period, and not even a vase at all. It is actually a perfume bottle that is missing its original stopper. Suddenly it all made sense why it was such a small vase! Jon’s parents aren’t going to be striking it rich from the proceeds of the sale…
For my silver and scrimshaw bracelet we had to get in a new category line. There wasn’t much of a wait in this line either, so before we knew it, we were back at another appraisal table! The jewelry appraiser was very pleased with my bracelet, although he didn’t know the artist. My mom had gotten the bracelet in the early 1990s, back when they had classified ads on the radio. She got it from a woman, and believed that it had been made locally in the 1970s. The appraiser said what he saw in the piece matched up with the story my mother had been told. It was made in the 1970s, from silver and mastodon ivory, and was most likely made in the Northwest. He said there was a lot of that style of jewelry being made here at the time. It won’t ensure our early retirement, but he appraised it at quite a bit more than my mom paid, so that made me happy.
Which left us standing in the line for posters and prints. It made sense, considering we brought an art print, but when we got to the front of the line, the appraiser frowned and said he wouldn’t be able to tell us anything about our print. Apparently posters and prints is more the concert or travel poster variety. He pointed us over to tribal art, so we got in line over there (we didn’t have to go back and stand in another category line).
And tribal art was where it was at. We brought in a 1960s print by a woman artist living and working in Alaska. The theme show of the print shows strong women and a whale; very forward for the early 60s. The man at the table lit up when he saw our print. He took a look at it, and explained that it was very unusual for art to show women in such strong roles during the time period. Our artist proof is numbered, and he explained that it isn’t common for artist proofs to show a run number, and a run of only 5 (ours is number 2) increased the value. He let us know what he would value it at now, and told us it will certainly increase because of the scene depicted. We were pleased with the information that he gave us.
All in all, it was a great experience. We learned a little more about all of items and everything is worth more than we paid for it! All of the appraisers were very friendly, and treated us kindly even though our items certainly wouldn’t knock anybody’s socks off. We didn’t ever feel like anybody was snooty or condescending and the other folks in line were all friendly and personable too. To be honest though, we didn’t have much of an opportunity to stand around and chat with other Roadshow-goers, because the lines were short and moved so quickly!
In fact, the lines were so short, we were shocked at how quickly we were done! Jon didn’t even have time to get grumpy about the crowds or the lines! We were back in the car and on our way at 8:26 am!