Inside Antiques Roadshow

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If you're a PBS viewer, you've likely seen Antiques Roadshow, a form of "reality TV" in which people have their antiques and collectibles appraised. Experts explain the history and estimated value of the items to the often-stunned owners. It's great TV, and now The Collectors Weekly has gone behind the scenes in An Inside Look at Antiques Roadshow. It's a great read, giving us a look at the real process leading up to making an episode -- specifically, 3,200 pairs of free tickets are handed out (though over 30,000 people applied for tickets), and 75 appraisers examined nearly 12,000 items over the course of one day. It's quite a scene. Here's a snippet from the article:

Great-Grampa's Five-Figure "Find"

Next Leigh introduces Dave to a woman everyone's buzzing about. Her 15-year-old granddaughter, Kayla, is being taped for a segment on a box of Alaskan Eskimo ivory items they've brought in. We're told they were appraised in the mid-five figures (you'll have to wait until the show airs for the final price), and the woman is beaming.

Maureen Brown is her name. She was born in San Francisco ("of the Hallinans of San Francisco," she says) and now lives in San Jose. Her great-grandfather was on a "schooner ship" that sailed through the South Pacific and came back with the carvings.

Anthony Slayter-Ralph, the fine art specialist who did the appraisal, walks up to congratulate her. "Ivory that age just glows" he tells Dave. Eskimo jewelry from that era is stunning for its artistic quality, he adds, but it was always functional. Intriguingly, three of the ivory pieces are not Alaskan. Slayter-Ralph thinks great-grandfather must have picked them up in the Marquesas Islands. One is a pendant with a bound slave figure. He's not sure what its function was, but he thinks that "if they were going to do a raid or do battle, they'd put it on to send out power."

What will happen to the ivory figures? "We'll keep them," says Brown. "They've been in the family for many years." But granddaughter Kayla is clearly thinking about the money. "I had no idea," she says. "I thought they were just little ivory tusks!"

Read the rest for a detailed explanation of a typical day at Antiques Roadshow! See also: Top 10 Antiques Roadshow Valuations.

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February 12, 2010 - 11:58am
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