The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Surprise: Antiques Roadshow!

Souvenirs of the Antiques Roadshow!
 Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
The book that I brought: souvenir illustrations from the
Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915 in San Francisco.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
Back in April I found out that the Antiques Roadshow was going to be at the Santa Clara Convention Center, which is less than 20 minutes from my house.  I missed them when they were in my home town a few years ago, because you have to put your name/e-mail address in a drawing on their website before a certain cut-off date, and then check the website after the deadline to see if you were chosen; I didn't find out about it until the date had already passed.  This time, though, I saw their ad after watching the show, put my e-mail address in, and actually got chosen for tickets!  The tickets are free, and each e-mail address chosen gets 2 tickets; each ticket holder gets to bring 2 items to be appraised.  I offered my second ticket to my friend Rose from the costume guild, and we had an exciting, if tiring day today at the Roadshow!

It's a lot of standing in line and waiting.  Correction: it's a *LOT* of standing in line and waiting!  Smart people bring folding chairs or stools, or those fold-up camp chairs.  You have to bring your ticket with you or you aren't allowed to enter (they mail the tickets to you a few weeks before the event) and you stand in this huge line to see a staff member who takes a quick look at your items and gives you a ticket for each one, telling you which line to get in/which appraiser to see.  This line took us at least an hour to get through.
The Palace of Fine Arts illustration from my book.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
 Then you go into the main appraising area (you have to turn off your cell phones and there is no picture or video taking allowed) and find the line for one of your items.  Then you wait some more -- from 10 minutes up to 3 hours or more, depending on the length of the line and how fast it moves -- and when you get to the front of the line you're called to go inside the famous Antiques Roadshow screens, on the "set" to stand in a shorter line directly in front of the appraiser's table.  Most people get about 5 minutes with the appraiser -- unless they need to consult with another one, or you get pulled out of line to be filmed -- and then you go out between the screens and back to the main waiting area, where you find another line for another of your items and do it all over again.  Since my friend and I wanted to stand in line and hear each other's appraisals, we did this 4 times!

There is no guarantee that the appraiser will know what you have brought; my friend had a very obscure
The illustration showing the view inside the Temple of Art.
Photo: Elizabeth Urbach
ethnic item that she knew a little bit about, and the appraiser couldn't give her any more information!  Also, some of the lines are *very* long and move *very* slowly.  Our last one -- in the "Collectibles" line which was kind of a "Miscellaneous" line -- we spent over an hour in line and made it maybe 1/4 of the way to the front, so we decided to just leave.  We were supposed to get lunch and then my friend had to pick up her daughter by 5:30 p.m. and we wouldn't have made it otherwise! We had arrived a little before 11 a.m. so that was a lot of standing!  But you get to look at everyone else's things when you're in line, and ask them questions about them, and tell them about your item, and even exchange information about them.  We stood and talked in line with some ladies who had an English embroidered sampler from 1835 that the appraiser said was nice because it had a poem embroidered on it instead of the alphabet and numbers, but because it was English it wasn't as valuable as it would have been if it had been American.  I was able to recognize the poem as the words to a traditional hymn -- Jesus, Lover of my Soul -- and I even remembered the melody!  The ladies wanted to record me singing it for them, but the Roadshow staff stopped us.  The ladies were happy that I could add something to their sampler, that the expert didn't know.

my friend and I at the exit! Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.
We also stood and talked with some ladies who had a sewing kit/needle case made in Germany (stamped "GERMANY" -- so commercially made) from a bullet casing!  The bullet casing had the needles and pins inside, and a thimble was the lid, replacing the point of the bullet.  We figured it was probably World War 1 or older, because after World War 2, Germany was divided into East and West, and used different marks on the things each side made, and nobody has been making needle cases since 1989 when the country was re-unified.  We left them in the Collectibles line, so I wonder what the appraiser said to them ...

Anyway, my book was appraised at around $500 at its current condition (half of what it would be if the cover were perfect), but it would cost more than that to restore it.  My friend's print was appraised at around $200.  We are tired, our backs and feet ache, but we had a fun day!


Rosemary said...

Very interesting sneak peak behind the scenes! What you don't realize when watching the show!

Steph said...

I'm glad you persevered!

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)