Monday, August 18, 2014

At the Antiques Roadshow

It was a blast! And I didn't even have a ticket!

This is why I could get in:

It was the Charleston, WV filming of the Antiques Roadshow, and I worked as a volunteer. I heard a call for volunteers on public radio and thought, why not? I hesitated a second when the lady I contacted told me we started work at 6:30 am, and worked until 5:00 pm, with a 30-minute break for lunch and a 15-minute afternoon break. But I knew I would not get this opportunity again, and I could always rest the next day, right?

Some of the people in my "quad" during training
Training was held for 2 hours the evening before the show. The volunteers--180 of us--were divided into groups based on the tasks that needed to be done. I preferred to be behind the scenes and not on camera, but the group I ended up in was Production. My job was to get people to the right appraisers. The organization of the event was pretty impressive.
With our Production Supervisor, Judy. She was great to work with and so supportive. 

No photos were allowed during the actual show day, so all my pictures were taken during and after training. It's easy to see why--if everyone took pictures, why would anyone want to watch the show?

The film crew getting set up

A segment on this chest was filmed during our training. We didn't get to hear what was said about it, or what it was appraised for, but it certainly got a lot of attention.

Tables were set up in a circle, with 3 or more appraisers at each table. The circle was divided into quadrants; each quadrant had a team that worked to keep the lines orderly and flowing smoothly. We were on our feet and on the go from the time the doors opened to the public about 7:30 until 7:00 pm that evening when the last people in our waiting lines were on their final line in front of the appraisers.
Some other larger pieces of furniture were also in place Friday evening. I believe the show sent trucks out to pick these things up.
Can you imagine the variety of stuff that came into the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday? Truly you would be amazed.
Would you like to have this in your living room?

Everything from mundane to fantastic, valuable to valueless, gorgeous condition to ragged and stained, handmade to Tiffany came through the doors.
I really liked this long table, and it's top showed years of use so I would guess it's fairly old.
My quad handled glass, jewelry, silver, pottery and porcelain, watches, clocks and folk art. We saw some of what was brought in, but most often the items remained wrapped until they were on the appraisal table, and we didn't get very close to most of those because we were just too busy. I did see quite a few clocks as that table was right at the corner where I was mostly working, but I saw, sadly, little glass which readers here know is my passion. Still, I didn't mind because it was all so interesting and the people coming in were patient, friendly and so happy to be there.

Late in the afternoon volunteers could take their items in for appraisal. I brought four small things because I did not want to walk all the way back to my car for anything that I could not carry on me. I could only have two of the four appraised, and it was a tough decision. I finally settled on a watch that my father gave me that had belonged to a great aunt and a small book by Washington Irving that I had never been able to track down to find out what it was worth.

The book appraiser took about 30 seconds to tell me my book was worth....two dollars! I had to laugh! It was copyrighted in 1910, but he said it was a gift booklet, an inexpensive item at the time it was printed and not worth much even today. Ah well. At least I know.

One thing I noticed about the appraisers is that they really took their time with people. They didn't rush you along--even after he told me the value of the little book, the appraiser took time to talk to me about it, and that was nice.

The watch proved to be more interesting. This watch, I learned was made about 1901. It is like a small pocket watch and hung on a long, double gold-colored chain. It was engraved with my great-aunt's name and 1916, so that must have been when it was given to her. I knew the case was 14 carat because it was stamped, but I did not know if the chain was gold, or simply gold-plated. As it turned out, the chain is also gold and the value was based on the value of the gold, and not on the watch itself. I was surprised when he quoted an appraised value of $1200. (It's now back in the safe deposit box at the bank).

The Quad 2 Team at the end of the day--tired but still smiling and satisfied with a good day's work

If you hear of the Antiques Road Show coming to a place near you, I highly recommend volunteering. It's hard work, but a great experience and the people with the show are among the nicest you'll ever meet.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

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