It’s easy to imagine yourself becoming rich and famous by discovering that the dusty old antique hidden away in your attic is really a national treasure.
If your grandparents were collectors or artists or business associates with a famous person, or you go yard saling every weekend in search of some unidentified treasure that was unassumingly tagged at $5, it doesn’t take much to convince yourself that everyone else would pay large sums of money if only they could have what you have.
I was one of 6,000 such people who had tickets to a weekend filming of the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. Celebrity appraisers were camped out at the Hartford Convention Center in search of undiscovered treasure somewhere in the old state of Connecticut. Having a ticket (learn how here) entitles you to two appraisals and a chance to share your story of discovery with 11 million viewers on national television.
Attending the show mostly involved standing in line (read the show FAQ for details). It’s only during the last 15 minutes of the approach to the appraisal tables that you actually get to be part of the set and stage as seen on TV. Two areas are set up for filming inside a ring of appraisal booths, creating a circus-tent vibe.
I got to meet the pony-tailed appraiser Gary Sohmers who always wears wacky shirts, and had one of my great grandpa’s newspaper illustrations appraised by Philip Weiss. The drawing has a neat back story and the detail and penmanship is superb, he said, but apparently the market isn’t clamoring for this kind of collectible. The paintings I brought by my great aunt Moira received a similar “wonderful-and-thanks-for-stopping-by” review.
There were a few lucky people whose treasures did take them behind the camera, but for me it was back to my day job. There is a chance I might show up in the background when the show airs next January so look out for the guy lugging around a raggedy old satchel full of artwork. – Mr. Weekndr