A ticket to the Antiques Roadshow is a gift on most appraisers' wish list. One of my customers secured two of 6,000 available tickets to the Antiques Roadshow in Savannah last July and invited me to go with her. I was very excited, wondering what new things I would learn.
The scene at the Savannah Inter-national Trade Convention Center was just as described by reporters and television watchers: Hundreds of people carrying bags, suitcases and boxes or pulling wagons and pushing dollies, strollers and even a wheelchair with artifacts. They came from all corners of the Southeast, including Augusta.
I immediately observed the precious heirlooms and attic treasures that were visible. Was I going to see anything unusual? I saw jewelry, paintings, swords, a chocolate set, furniture mostly chairs, because they were portable porcelain bowls, books, quilts, silver, dolls, rugs. Most looked to be 19th and early 20th century pieces, both antiques and collectibles.
My customer brought several items, including a pair of leather fire buckets from Portsmouth, N.H., from the 18th century, an autograph of the tallest man in the world and a book of Birds of America. While we progressed to the "sorting table" to receive the category tickets, we spoke with people around us and saw Lara Spencer, the new hostess for the Roadshow, interviewing guests.
Appraisers sorted our items by folk art, books and manuscripts and collectibles. First, we visited folk art with our vintage fire buckets. Mitchell Keno of New York told us the fire buckets were worth $4,700. Nice start!
ON THE AIR
The episode of Antiques Roadshow filmed last July in Savannah airs Monday, and again April 5 and 12, on Public Broadcasting stations.
While we stood at the table with the three folk art appraisers, I observed a beautiful quilt in the Mariner's Compass pattern from about 1850. Any quilt collector would have been thrilled to see it. Value: $1,500. Next came a huge piece of metal that looked like the roof of a doghouse. The owner told the appraiser it was for making medicine. The appraiser did not know what it was. To me it was a piece of an old still.
Next stop was collectibles with our pencil autograph of Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man. Kathleen Guzman told us the value was only $20-$30: Pencil autographs are not as valuable as autographs in ink, and there is little market for Wadlow autographs. Sigh!
As we walked to our next station, I could see more unusual pieces set apart to be discussed in the highlight segments, I presumed. There was a Victorian oak desk in an unusual design and a turn-of-the-century chocolate set in an Art Nouveau motif.
Our final stop was the Books and Manuscripts table. Ken Gloss from Boston examined the Birds of America book with its beautiful illustrations. It was a common reprint, a book club edition of the 1930s, worth $10-$15. This was a disappointment for customer who had paid $500. Oh, dear!
It is tough to give customers bad news about their item's value. All you can do is show them the research or describe your experience with that kind of object. Gloss has his laptop in front of him ready to search for citations, if necessary. The other appraisers spoke from knowledge, not from references at that moment. In another area of the arena, researchers were seated in what they call the "triage area" with reference books to locate marks and makers.
We then walked back to the furniture area to examine in more detail what the experts has chosen to include in this show. Large furniture pieces are determined in advance of the show and moved to the convention center for appraisal. They came in a great variety of styles, some very ornate and others very plain. To me it was a very interesting contrast. We observed one of the famous Keno twins, appraising an early 19th century mahogany table. What a treat to observe the experts who write the books.
It was time to go after two hours. It was exhilarating to be on the inside of the activities and now have the memories of this special event. Many thanks to my generous customer for sharing her tickets.
(Martha Lyons, an Evans resident, owns Lyons Appraisals and Sales and has been an appraiser for 23 years.)
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