From the AT Staff: For the treasure seeker in us all

As I see it, there are two reasons why Antiques Roadshow’s popularity has secured the show’s spot in PBS’s programming roster for the last 14 years.

The thrill of the hunt appeals to the treasure hunter in us all.
Stories of priceless antiques narrowly avoiding death by trash can or
forgotten heirlooms snapped up at a rummage sale for pennies on the
dollar keep us on the edge of our seats. I love watching an expert on
the Roadshow
excitedly explain a rare piece – its history and important design
aspects – to its owner who then blurts out that she almost threw it
away after using it to make popsicles for the neighborhood kids for 30

Stories like these give us all hope that we, too, may someday discover an item that is truly rare and truly an antique.

This trash-to-treasure mentality piqued the interest of visitors. They logged a record number of visits to Anne Gilbert’s ASK AT appraisal
last week of a Tiffany desk box. The owner purchased the box, decorated
with what’s believed to be a hard-to-find “pine needle” pattern, for a
mere $40 at a local rummage sale. Gilbert set the value at more than
$1,000. More than 900 visitors have already logged on to read about the

On page 18, a collection of Chinese jade recently appraised at a Roadshow
stop has just such a story. The collection broke the record as the most
valuable item ever appraised in the history of the American version of
the British-adapted television show. One woman’s father spent years
searching for the jade pieces while stationed in China for the U.S.
military. One bowl in the collection (that was likely carved for an
emperor) was stolen from her brother’s Florida home and then sold to a
man for $3,000. The family managed to track it down but had to pay
$5,000 to get it back.

Our coverage of the July 11 Madison, Wis., Roadshow stop
on page 16 offers a classy, behind-the-scenes look at the controlled
chaos that takes place during tapings. It’s easy to see why antiques
shows are still relevant and important ways to buy antiques. Our
coverage of the July Brimfield Antiques Show on page 22 is all about the thrill of the hunt.

The second reason Antiques Roadshow
is so popular is rooted in the objects themselves. Appraisers take the
time to describe eloquently the craftsmanship, materials and methods
artisans used to create the objects. Who doesn’t get excited watching
the Keno twins practically quiver when they talk about the practice of
Colonial furniture experts? Their careful selection of pine, maple or
cherry made sure the furniture looked spectacular and help it survive
hundreds of years. Careful descriptions of how pieces are made build
appreciation of lost arts, such as hand chased silver, Native American
weaving and hand carvings.

Take some time to research your favorite antique and collectible or
write down how it came to your family. Who knows, by the 100th season
it may be your ancestor on the other side of that podium, Antiques
Roadshow 2095.

Eric Bradley

Antiques News, Blog
Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen Knapstein is the editor of Antique Trader magazine. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she has written dozens of articles on vintage collectibles and their historical context. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at