Monday, July 25, 2011

An Interesting Time at the Antiques Roadshow

        The Antiques Roadshow people have their system down pat!  Our tickets were for the 9 AM group.  Parking was close by and after watching other folks unload their cars and truck things inside, I was very grateful we had chosen to take what we did!  There was a bit of everything..from a massive hand-painted wardrobe (I guess that's what it was!) that was "parked" along one wall to papers tucked into huge portfolios.  Made me grateful for my tiny Victorian pins...much easier to handle! 
        The huge auditorium area was roped off into hourly segments which was set up so that you "snaked" up and back through the aisles. What was left of the 8 AM group was moving quickly through their area.  By the 9AM hour we were all "upgraded" right in behind the last of the "8'ers".
        Les and I had both brought small folding stools so that we could wait in semi-comfort, but our group of hundred's moved quickly enough that we never had a chance to sit!  After a couple of ticket checks we were finally to the tables where we could "declare" what we brought.  These ladies handed us bookmark-sized tags, Les had the lithographs tag with a folk art tag for the silhouettes; I got books and jewelry tags.

       Then we had arrived!   In the next room the appraisal tables were curtained around the perimeter.  Occasional openings in the curtains dictated the entry points.  Once through the door we were shown which line to get into again.  We were sent in opposite directions; I had to go around to the opposite side.  I passed the jewelry line which was incredibly long and opted for the book one instead.  A lot had to do with what you brought.  The "opening" I was in had 3 taped off lines: dolls, books, music.  The dolls line only had about 4 people come through the entire time I was waiting.  The music line had about twice that; both lines moved very quickly.  The book line evidently was a popular one! 
        After another long wait, I handed my book to the appraiser who was a bit distracted by what was going on next to us with an old collection.  I'd been told that my book belonged to a lady whose sisters had been the models for some of Harrison Fisher's work.  She had written their names next to the pictures here and there.  He was not impressed.  He looked at a few inscriptions, shrugged, handed the book back to me saying that it would be impossible to determine whether this was true or not, that any relevance was lost in history and could never be known.  My interview and valuation took less than two minutes.  

        Les got his 2 appraisals in less time than I was able to get my one!   He had gotten further information on his lithographs and the appraiser was quite outspoken on how beautiful they were (that was delightful!)  The valuation wasn't earthshaking but nice.

         As for the silhouettes...I think I'll save that story for the next blog!

        With people milling everywhere, I told Les that the jewelry line was horribly long and that I really didn't want to wait.  Each of the pieces is signed, so I think I'll just continue to research them on my own when my curiosity builds up again!  We took our little treasures and scooted out since the 10 AM group was already coming in .
        As we walked back to the parking garage, new people were carrying and hauling their treasures toward the doors.  It was interesting to see so many different items...many Native American things of course, lots of framed items from prints to manuscripts, lots of furniture being balanced delicately on everything from makeshift dollies to heavy furniture moving equipment.  Some things were being kept under wraps by their owners by choice, I'm sure.

         I felt that the Roadshow had the organizational part down to a fine science (according to one blue-shirted assistant it's much better than it was years ago when everyone showed up at once and you simply waited all day and hoped you got in).  Now, with the tickets giving a designated time, they can work with a given number more efficiently.  I was told (and I have no idea if this is accurate) that they give out 3,000 tickets per show; that translates to 500 people and 1,000 items per hour. 
        I'm quite sure that they have developed the ability to make most appraisals very short...simply because they are looking for the more unique items to build a show around...and if they don't make them short, the lines will simply get longer, frustrating for everyone.  

        The most amazing part of the Roadshow, however, didn't happen until we saw the 10 PM News that night.

         It  seems that until Saturday the highest appraised item in Roadshow history had been $1 million.  Last Saturday the Tulsa show broke the record...a group of Chinese cups carved from rhinoceros horn was appraised for $1.5 million!!  The Tulsa show won't air until sometime early next year but until then we'll be wondering if "Gee!   Wonder if that was the fellow next to us in line?"

         It sure made the Tulsa show a spectacular success!

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