I recently had the good fortune to cover the Antiques Roadshow when it taped in Chicago this summer. It was fun, interesting and surprising. Here are some of the nuggets I picked up while interviewing its directors, executives, experts and people who brought items to be valued.
1. If you live in Albuquerque, NM, Chicago, IL, New York, NY, Charleston, WV, Austin, TX, Birmingham, AL, Santa Clara, CA, Bismark, ND, the towns visited this spring and summer, you can check Antiques Roadshow about late September or early October to see when the segment closest to home will air in 2015.
3. If you want to attend an Antiques Roadshow appraisal event, check the first Monday in January when the show premiers its 19th season. Announcements are made on line and usually at the premier about where the show will tape that spring and summer. Look online for ticket application information. Tickets are given out by random drawing, not first come, but be sure to get yours in before the deadline, usually early April. Two tickets are given free of charge to the applicant drawn.
There’s more to an Antiques Roadshow event than the expected wow. Yes, some items are valued much higher than the people who brought them think. But other items are chosen for their education value as copies, tourist market objects or fakes. An art object brought to the Chicago taping could be worth $20,000 if authenticated but would be $2,000 as a decorative piece, if not.
Among the surprises in Chicago was that even though 3,000 people received two tickets each and could bring two items, meaning that the experts had 18,000 objects to consider, the appraisals and discussions were all done in one Saturday starting with 8 a.m. ticket holders and not ending until all 5 p.m. ticket holders were seen.
Another amazing tidbit is that the experts pay their own way to come to the cities being taped. They do get television exposure but they cannot hand their cards to the people they meet. Of the approximately 150 experts on the show’s roster, about 70 came to the Chicago taping.
Reaction to an appraisal value is often a surprise. During a Chicago taping that evaluated a century-old doll, its owner became emotional when learning she would have to add a zero to the couple hundred dollars she thought it would bring. She kept it in a closet but originally was going to sell it. After the appraisal she changed her mind.
Keeping an object after appraisal is not surprising according to Executive Producer Marsha Bemko who speaks to groups across the country. “ One of the interesting things is whether its business or another group, 20-year-olds, 60 or 80, they have a question in common: what happened to the objects after a person leaves the Roadshow. I tell them it’s about the relationship. It does not matter what the object is worth. They never sell the objects,” Bemko said. She added that a few exceptions did occur when the object was picked up cheap at a garage sale and had no family value.
No matter where the Antiques Roadshow visits and how the the town’s convention center is configured, the set where the appraisals and taping are done will be the same. Windows are shut off and backdrops are set up.
Each town’s one-day taping is divided into three episodes. Host Mark Walberg introduces three visits outside the convention center using a different expert at each place. The outside visits, typically to a museum, a person’s collection or a significant building, is to give a sense of place to the town visited, according to Bemko. “Otherwise, all you see is the convention center,” she said.
In Chicago, the outside the convention center visits were to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lyric Opera and Crab Tree Farm in the northern suburbs.
For more Antiques Roadshow interesting insight visit the Roadshow Scene
Merely circulating among the experts, camera crew and folks carrying paintings, sculptures, vases and carefully wrapped treasures was fun. It was also delightful to talk with people who loved coming even though their objects were not worth much
To learn about some of the items that will appear on Chicago segments click Chicago
Photos by Jodie Jacobs