Not only did I have the opportunity to take a couple of things beyond my usual areas of expertise to be evaluated by some savvy appraisers, seeing all the objects people were carting into the Reliant Center with hopeful enthusiasm was still a major part of the fun.
Excitement on the Set
When eager appraisal-seekers finally reached the set area (which is relatively small considering the number of people who filter through on any given Roadshow Saturday) where valuations take place and a few lucky treasure-bearers are filmed to appear on the show, thereâs an unmistakable buzz in the air. That part of the experience hasnât changed since I visited one of these mammoth undertakings close to home in Austin many summers ago.
With familiar faces like Leigh Keno and Leslie Keno earnestly examining furniture on one side of the set, and a producer conferring with Gary Sohmers about a possible poster âfindâ across the floor, itâs hard not to just stop and take it all in. But being the well-oiled machine the Antiques Roadshow has blossomed into keeps appraisal-seekers moving right through the lines. Eventually they wind up in the area where theyâre screened if theyâd like to share a few parting words with the camera. That last part of the Roadshow experience is relatively new, and does add a fun element to the end of each show.
First Stop: Asian Arts
Frankly, Iâve always found the various Chinese dynasties, periods of manufacture and associated geographical regions to be confusing. And being that Asian artifacts and decorative objects arenât my usual cup of tea, I was glad for the guidance when it came to the little Chinese man figurine my mother asked me to take along for the ride. Asian arts expert Lark Mason knew straight away what it was and asserted, âChinese mud men!â
Mason explained in the Asian arts trade that particular type of figure was made of a certain clay (rather than actually being crafted of mud) and a very recognizable type of glaze from about 1915-1925 in the Guangzhou region of China. They were manufactured for export and the current value is about $50-75. Considering it was included in boxes of old stuff given to my mother for helping a family friend clean out an elderly womanâs garage, thatâs not such a bad deal.
Next Stop: Jewelry
This time I shared a shell cameo, also belonging to my mother, with appraiser Jeanenne Bell. Knowing Bell is intimately familiar with cameo jewelry, I was pleased she would be doing the valuation. This particular cameo supposedly belonged to Maude Adams, a very popular stage star in the early 1900s.
In the 1970s, my mother bought a number of items from a woman claiming to be Adamsâ niece who lived down the street from us back in the old neighborhood, which included several pieces of jewelry. While my mother had no reason to question the womanâs word, we have nothing to prove the provenance such as a photograph of Adams wearing the cameo, or a bill of sale from a jeweler bearing her name. Without that, it could only be valuated as a nice antique cameo rather than a piece associated with a celebrity from bygone days.
When Bell picked it up and began to examine it with her loop, her first remark was, âYou know itâs karat gold,â which I didnât since I had never examined it closely. She also remarked on the quality of the filigree surrounding the shell carving and the nice fold-down bail that was more ornate than those she sees on most similarly styled cameos. Bell also noted that there was a little diamond chip in the necklace the lady depicted on the cameo was âwearing.â After giving it a thorough inspection, she said it was close to 80 years old and worth about $550, which was a significant appreciation on motherâs initial investment.
All in all, mom was pleased with her newfound information on objects sheâs had tucked away for years, and I had a pleasant morning taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the updated Antiques Roadshow operation.