Antiques Roadshow

I got hooked on The Antiques Roadshow because there was never anything else on TV at that time.  Don’t remember now whether it was Friday or Saturday night.  I still can’t remember their regular time slot, as I seem to just happen upon it.  But over the years, I inherited a number of things, mostly just old and not valuable. I had some of them appraised a few years ago and was told that yes, they are old and no, they are not valuable. But I forgot to show the appraiser a few things. So when I saw that The Antiques Roadshow was going to be in Madison, WI on July 11th, I signed up for free tickets in their lottery and was picked!

I had an old print from my dad’s cousin Karl from Green Bay. He was a reclusive paranoid-schizophrenic so we never really saw him very much. When he died 30 + years ago, he left all his money to the Christian Science Church and all his ‘stuff’ to my siblings and me. The print is a still-life by Arjen Galema. Say who? He was a Dutch painter and it took a bit of searching to find out about him online. I also considered bringing an old finial mirror of Cousin Karl’s but it’s much too heavy and I just wanted to have fun and not get a backache. So I brought a Hattie Carnegie necklace I once bought at a home sale. (People are allowed to bring 2 items to be appraised).

None of my friends was free to come along, so I set off in my new used CR-V for my moment of glory.  It was a perfect summer day in the Midwest, not too hot or cold, lots of sun and puffy clouds. Magical.  I got to Madison in about 3 hours (in the Midwest we don’t measure distance by miles but by time) and got in line with my loot. And what a line it was.  It snaked back and forth in this huge exhibition hall, hundreds of people lugging furniture, prints, dolls, luggage, paintings, books, mirrors, musical instruments, tools, tapestries, clothes, you name it. We were all rubber-necking trying to see what everyone else brought.

I was in line behind a mother and daughter from Pine River, WI, who had brought some old signs from the (now-closed) general store mercantile. You know, those metal signs that say Wrigley’s Chewing Gum on them?  They had old photos of the store and related the history of the building, the lumber baron who built it, etc. A man in front of them had 2 old violins, one in its original case. The general atmosphere was that of a party. And the line just kept moving. The entrance times are scattered throughout the day. Mine was 11AM but I didn’t arrive until noon. So there were perhaps close to a thousand people there when I was. In all, 5,000-6,000 people are given tickets and 10,000 items are appraised in one day.

Had I known that beforehand, I might have chickened out, as I’m not crazy about huge crowds.  But the Roadshow really has its act together. Everywhere I turned, there was someone wearing a blue t-shirt ready to answer questions or direct us to bathrooms, food, etc.  And very friendly help it was. With that many people going through the building in one day, you would think that tempers might flare and shoving ensue. But the tone was so relaxed that anyone acting out would have simply looked silly. Just a great feeling overall.

I was in that first line for 1- 1/2 hours and finally reached the inner sanctum where the actual appraisals and filming occur. I then got in another line for Prints and Posters for a hour. When it was my turn, I was told that my lovely Galema print would fetch about $50-75. And the gentleman expert then kindly and sincerely thanked me for bringing it in to show him. For my necklace, there was no line in Jewelry and I quickly found out it is worth a whopping $60. Not quite enough to retire on. While I was in the inner sanctum, they were filming a woman who had brought what looked like a folk art straw doll. It must have been important, as they filmed her the entire time I was there. Can’t wait to see the show and hear the appraisal.

The people in line near me knew many of the appraisers and pointed them out: “Look, there’s one of the Keno brothers.” Of course, it was easy to pick out the appraisers in the huge crowd, as they were the best-dressed people there!

Would I do this again?  Probably not, as I’m not great at waiting. But I’m glad I did it. Met some very nice people. And had a wonderful drive through beautiful country.

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