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My Antique Roadshow Adventure

By Connie Yore

Have you ever looked up at your little shelf on the wall while watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS and wondered aloud, “What is Great Aunt Sally’s vase really worth?” Well, being an antiques appraiser, even I have done this.

So, I was determined to do something about it. There are certain antiques I run across and even own that even us self-proclaimed estate-sale divas are stumped by.

My son and I both registered online in a lottery to win tickets to the Antiques Roadshow. I registered for Pittsburgh, and Pat for Minneapolis. Unbelievable! Our first try and we won tickets to Minneapolis. About 35,000 people apply, and 3,000 are chosen for each location. As I had never visited the twin cities, I was excited about my first trip there.

I decided to take two paintings I had inherited (we were each allowed two items for an appraisal). Pat chose some black and white photographs which were taken at the turn of the turn of the century in the West by his wife’s grandfather, and two Joan Miro lithographs. Because I figured the paintings might not make it past the overhead storage of a puddle-jumper (plane) I decided to take the AmTrack. (Also my first time on a train trip of this length). I enjoyed passing by America’s farmlands, playgrounds, and waterways, but my feeling turned to sadness when I saw so many abandoned factories and buildings. My feelings turned again, this time to nostalgia, when I saw the Miller Brewing Company, the Land O’Lakes factory, and the Red Wing Pottery Company.

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Arriving 11 hours later, a car was waiting to take me to the hotel, which I found was right across the street from the venue. My son took the “red eye” from California and met me the next morning. He rented a car, so in the morning we did the “tourist” thing – stumbling upon the Pillsbury and Gold medal factories’ old stone and brick buildings. Downtown Minneapolis was taken over by about a million young people, as the Katy Perry concert that night was canceled due to ‘food poisoning’ – probably a bad cupcake.

Our appointed time to arrive at the Convention Center was 1 p.m. (They like to stagger attendees so they won’t have too much time to wait in line). Upon arrival, we were directed to a line. Hey, this wasn’t so bad, I thought, until I saw the line zig-zagged about 50 times until you got to another line. There were chairs set up about every 12 feet, so you could rest.

We chatted with several people in line, and learned that many people had tried five and six times for tickets. I had heard that 90% of the items people took to the show were worth $100 or less, and now I believed it. (I tried by best not to tell too many folks the phone in their pocket was worth multiples of what they were holding).

At the end of the line you presented your items at a table, and were given a ticket – “photography, Paintings, Jewelry, Prints, etc.” for each item you wanted appraised. Once in, you found yet another line outside the main room, and were let into the room when space permitted. Once in this room, yep, you guessed it, ANOTHER line. Some of the areas were not as busy as other – my son had a long wait in the “Prints” line, but the Painting line was relatively quick.

I know, readers, you are anxious to see if I can retire on what I brought. The morning of the appraisal, my son and I made a bet that whoever guessed closest to the appraised combined value of items taken, the other person had to buy dinner. I was elated when I guessed my G. Ames Aldrich (a northern Indiana artist) oil on board was appraised at $800-my guess to the nickel. The other painting, supposedly by Jacob Bink, who lived in the 1500’s was less than I had guessed. Pat’s photos (about 12) were appraised t $3,000. The appraiser told us that because most photography these days is digital, more and more black and white photos, especially, will be sought after. His Miros were appraised at $350 each – what we thought. Pat bought dinner. I must note here that once in front of the appraisers, you are there for not more than five minutes. (I suppose they rush you through to get all the appraisals finished as soon as possible.)

NO, you won’t see us on the Road Show (except maybe in a line in the background). The show will air probably in January of 2012. Look for a dress a girl bought at an antique shop that turned out to be Elizabeth Taylor’s! We did go into the “Feedback Booth”, so maybe we will be picked for that airing.

It was an interesting experience, and I am happy to have taken part in it, and to have spent some quality time with my son, and no, ladies, I DIDN’T see the Keno brothers! And NO, I am not retiring!

This article was printed in The Journal Era, Berrien Springs, Michigan, September 21, 2011