June 17, 2009

On the road...to the Antiques Roadshow

I've mentioned ad nauseum that I scored tickets to the Antiques Roadshow in Atlantic City. And now I'm (finally!) back to tell you how the day went.

Once the (free!) tickets arrived in the mail, the pressure was on. Did I even HAVE anything worthy of the appraisers' keen eyeballs? I certainly didn't want to embarrass myself. Considering I buy most of my "treasures" from yard sales and the like, I wasn't expecting a windfall. Though I'd be lying if I didn't say that the retired teacher with the Secaucus, NJ, $25 yard sale table that made the Keno brothers almost vomit with excitement wasn't in the back of my mind. (If you're not a Roadshow Stalker like me, her "moldy" -- her words -- table was appraised by Keno Squared for $200,000 to $300,000.)

I mentioned I would likely bring my Napoleon picture from The Napoleon Room (click
here for that post)...

...and I did.

Mom carefully loaded up her grandmother's china into her roller bag.

And it was time to take our show (and our stuff) on the road(show)!

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when we arrived to a line that looked like this:

But I was, a little. Note how it snakes back and forth, back and forth....the whole circumference of the convention center. For ONCE I wore sensible shoes. Phew!

The good news is, those Roadshow folks are incredibly organized. You have a time on your ticket (ours was 3:00 p.m.) and were strongly discouraged from arriving more than 30 minutes prior to your assigned time. The room was divided into hourly sections so you didn't get to jump the line if you got there hours in advance.

The wait on line was only a bit over an hour, and I have to say it was just about the most entertaining hour of my life. The crap stuff people brought! You also had to carry in whatever your brought, so there were a lot of huge pieces on some interestingly jury-rigged devices (little red wagons linked together with boat rope, for example).

There were lots and lots of rocking chairs, like this one:

And this doll would have creeped me out as-is; the fact that she was seat belted into a doll's stroller...well, I'm just grateful there weren't nightmares starring Dolly.

I really liked this horse, and the woman to whom it belonged:

She had great stories of antiquing expeditions in New Hope, PA. I was sorry I lost track of her inside...I was curious to see how much the horse was worth. She bought it for $200, which at the time was a "whole lot of money" for her. She'd since been told never to sell it for less than $5,000 and she wasn't sure whether that was a load of horse poop or not.

Could this be the next $300,000 table?

And look...Napoleon found a mate:

The owner wasn't sure of the origin or context (in French, mais oui) of the letter, and I couldn't seem to make out a signature. It seemed to be some sort of formal accolade "to" Napoleon, but I'm not sure it was actually to the little big man himself. But she was hopeful like the rest of us.

Each person was allowed to bring two things, so I also brought my grandma's wedding jewelry. It had never been appraised and I was curious more than anything. Isn't it pretty? It's not very old, only from the early 1940s, but very sparkly.

I also took along my great-grandmother's bracelet. I figured this to be Art Deco, and always thought it was pretty and unique. I just wanted to know a bit about the history. "But Laura, that's three items." Shh! Don't tell. I'd "group" it. Or something.

Once you got to the head of the line, you were briefly assessed and given tickets for the categories that most matched your items. Separate and much shorter lines formed inside on the TV set, and we decided to head to "Jewelry" first.

Virginia Salem got out her loupe and other fancy tools of the trade. She told me the main diamond was about .7 carats, and "good" (note lack of enthusiasm. At least I did.). That's when Ginny "Knock-the-wind-from-your-sails" Salem let me have it. "...probably $800 at auction." WHAT? For diamonds mounted in platinum? Was she kidding? She was, right? (Note to the ladies out there: Getting engaged? Buy your rings at auction! Save a LOT of money.). She told me due to the current value of platinum, I could pop the diamond out and get around $200-$250 for the mount alone. The wedding band is simply an "accent ring" and that would be about $125, again mostly for the platinum. She also said the insurance value for the set is significantly higher, about $1800. At least I think that's what she said. "Big difference, right?" Whatever.

Not that I'm ever planning on selling the rings, but I guess -- given what I know sort-of run-of-the-mill rings to cost -- I thought it would be quite a bit more. Did I mention it sparkles?!

She told me the bracelet was something that was produced in New York City in the 1920s, which makes total sense (my great-grandmother was living in Brooklyn in the 20s). They were quite common at the time, and designed to look like platinum but made with white gold to create the look for less. She pegged that at around $350, which didn't seem so bad to me. Again, they're not for sale but now I know. TO SHOP AT AUCTIONS!

Anyway...next stop: "The Pottery and Porcelain" line with mom.

The Limoges fruit set was a wedding gift her grandmother received (my great-grandma, whose bracelet I brought), and perhaps never even used. It is in pristine condition and missing no pieces.

Christopher Lane immediately dated them to the 1890s, but despite that we could tell from his tone that things were about to head south. He spoke of how transferware was a popular technique at the time and "unfortunately, that's what we see a lot of here." Ouch. Basically, the images are applied -- transferred -- to the pieces, then passed through another factory (which is why you often see china that is double, triple, etc. stamped on the back) where someone applies some quick and basic hand painted brush strokes to it. Just enough to warrant the "hand painted" seal on the back of the pieces. At auction: 60 bucks. WHAT? OK, I've been to auctions and have seen crappier slightly inferior looking sets go for more.

Almost reluctantly, mom pulled out a little bowl (which I forgot to take pictures of). It's got some chipping, and is quite small (about 4 inches diameter) but she's always been fascinated by the images on it -- one side has what is clearly an old airplane, the other an auto. Her uncle was a huge collector and had held on to this piece. My mom told Christopher she was more curious than anything about what the pictures represented. "Now THIS is an interesting piece!" He went on (and on) about how it was a Dutch piece (uncle was Dutch, and his friend Reinhardt used to bring back bits and bobs for him from Holland), and the mark that was fading off read "Bleriot." Louis Bleriot was an aviator who invented the monoplane, and was the first to fly across a large body of water (the English Channel). The bowl was some kind of commemorative piece, and Christopher wasn't sure what the automobile represented and suggested I look it up (I Googled, to no avail). He said even in its condition, it would fetch $80 to $120 at auction, and higher if it were the right audience. Considering my mom was going to sell it at a yard sale for 50 cents, I'd say that's good.

We weren't allowed to take photos inside since the TV cameras were rolling, but I did manage to sneak a shot or two. I call this one "Stalking the Keno Bros."

There was a lot going on there on the main floor. I did get to see a man find out his very bizarre and intricate life-size wood carving with serpent heads (I couldn't possibly describe this object well. You'll have to watch the show in 2010 to see for yourself) was worth $30,000 to $50,000. That was actually pretty fun to watch, and the appraiser was even more excited than the owner (he posed for his own personal photos with it). And we were told someone had brought a painting earlier that was worth $300,000. You would have had to scrape me off the floor.

Next it was finally time for Napoleon, who at this point in the day had his photo taken by several people. He was a bit of a star, and I think he'd be happy to know the ladies really seemed to dig him.

Appraiser Nicholas Dawes seemed to dig him, too. He said he'd never seen a Napoleon engraving exactly like this one. (I asked, "Do you mean that in a good way?" He smiled and said, "it's a nice piece.") He said the small images that surround Napoleon are called reliefs, and while not uncommon there were more than is typical on mine. He dated it to the 40s ("Oh," I said. "The 1840s," he quickly added. "OH!" That's better.). Since it's framed he wasn't able to see any marks to indicate where it came from. He put the price at about $400 which I think is quite good for an engraving. And much more than I paid for it.

But a day at the Antiques Roadshow with mom: Priceless.


Caren said...

Great post Laura! I really enjoyed reading about your Roadshow adventures. Good for you with the Napolean print. I agree with you about the china set, it's really pretty no matter what they said it's "worth." Thanks for sharing with us! Have a great day!

Keetha Broyles said...

What an adventure!!!

Leigh of Bloggeritaville said...

Oh, Laura! That was fun! I enjoyed that so much!! I wish I could have gotten my piece of artwork I scored at the thrift appraised. Mine is by Ellen Oakford and someone left a comment on that post saying it was worth somthing. What-I dont know. Will it finance my beach home? lol, I wish....

Great post!

Oh and the doll, it stopped me dead and I use that word loosley, in my tracks. Scared the you know what outta me.

Purple Flowers said...

Thanks for sharing this fun event. I watch that show when I have time, and it is interesting how people bring everything but the kitchen sink. By the way, was there a sink there?! :)

Kwana said...

This was so much fun to read. I loved every moment of walking the Antiques Road with you and your mom.

desiree said...

Wow! Thanks for all the behind the scenes info. I'm going in August and can't wait. Not that I think my crap is anything really special I just want to learn a little more about it! This was a great post....Thanks!

3elephant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
3elephant said...

I will keep all the vintage inherited from my parent, not simple but of their value, but most importantly those fond memories, and allowing me to recall those foot steps they walked in the past. Please take good care of these catch, and thanks for sharing. I Luv antiques.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This was so much fun to read Laura! I felt like I was online with you and all the time I was wondering what I'd bring to show the experts. Unfortunately there are no family heirlooms or antiques in our households so I'd probably just go along for the ride. I love your Mom's china and I think it's worth so much more than they appraised it....your grandmother's jewelry too! I bet they'd go for a higher price at auction. I'm glad Napoleon was unique! Hold on to him and insure him now! ;-)

I enjoyed the YouTube video --I always wonder how people can keep a straight face when they are told a $25 piece is worth $200,000!

Thanks for your best wishes on all our happy occasions! It was a fun week!

Blondie's Journal said...


This was an incredibly interesting account of your day at the Roadshow! I can't say I have watched it more than two or thee times but I know how much you love it.

I think Napolean faired pretty well... and to be honest, as you said, the day was priceless.

Thanks so much for sharing and the great pictures. I felt like I was really THERE. How cool!


Joyce said...

I loved the post Laura!! OK so you can't retire, but you could go on a nice vacation.

I love the china- the shapes of the creamer and sugar bowl are very cool. I had a feeling on this one that it was either painted by a china painter of the past or that it was decal and someone added a few strokes so it could be labeled handpainted. I paint on porcelain and use to go to seminars all the time....

One time I went to an estate sale and picked up a piece to flip over before I could completely flip it over the woman running the show, says it is Limoges. I looked at her and said the piece is Limoges, but the painting is done by a china painter. She argued and insistent it was Limoges... I just smiled and walked away. I still think your mom has a beauty of a set.

Hugs my friend! xoxo

heidi said...

GREAT post... what fun! Keep those rings. The sentimental value is worth more than they can estimate. xoh

Sue said...

Mom might have been curious about her Uncle's little bowl...I'm more interested in her Uncle and his "friend"...Reinhardt?? and What's with those Keno twins...you need to ask daughter about all her NY sightings of one or the other...she always sees them at Serafina....well one of them...I don't think she has ever seen them both together.....

Weef! said...

Laura! What a terrific post! I feel like we were right there with you and your mom! What fun! Thanks for giving us the behind the scenes look at the Roadshow-- and good for Napoleon! $400 is pretty nice for a little French man with a big ego! As for the Kenos-- I love those two! I've seen Leigh twice in the city-- once at Serafina (79th Street) and once at Inagiku!

j.cro said...

I'm really glad to hear mom is feeling so well she was able to attend ARS with you. Sounds like a great time!

Maureen said...

I started reading this post on my phone, but was getting so frustrated because I couldn't access the You Tube video. So glad I got on the desktop (aka doorstop) to see this post. You are so funny. You crack me up. I love the pics of you and your mom. What fun. Glad it was a great day.

Renovation Therapy said...

OMG so much fun! I would have had so much fun people watching...

Laurie said...

Oh, I enjoyed your post so much! Two years ago we got lucky in the AR lottery and traveled to Salt Lake City to go...it was a BLAST!!! We had a very similar experience to you, and I, too, thought it was so much darn fun standing in line with all those people and seeing their "treasures"!

I'm back to visit after first seeing your blog during the Cottage Charm giveaway we were both in. I'm following now!

Allidink said...

Hey thanks for visiting me earlier I'm glad you like what I've done with the teacup lol. This was such a fascinating post! I love Antiques Roadshow my mom and I watch it all the time. It's so interesting sometimes when something looks so ugly or like complete junk and it's worth a lot! Good for your Napoleon engraving lol. This was so interesting to read!

All the best,

Linda Lou said...

Very intersting stuff Laura, thanks for sharing, I bet it was a hoot to stand on line checking out everyone's "treasures"!

Sue said...

Saw your comment on Linda Lou's blog.....don't say your not worth anything....Your "priceless"...

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Well, THAT'S fun! Loved reading all about your Antiques Roadshow adventure.

James said...

what a dream! Of course I'm the lucky guy who got the stories in person!

muralimanohar said...

What a fun day! Sounds like it wou;d be worth it to go just for the adventure, even without anything of value! :D