A behind-the-camera look at ‘Antiques Roadshow’

Antiques Roadshow Behind the Scenes is a fun and fascinating look at the no. 1 PBS weekly show, written by the program’s longtime executive producer, Marsha Bemko.

Packed with quick hits called “Marsha’s Musings,” Bemko shares insights on the personalities and logistical demands that go into making Antiques Roadshow, but that’s only the beginning. The book combines valuable “how to” tips for collectors with tales of wrap-party hi-jinks and appraisers’ favorite recollections from 13 years of cross-country travels.

The show’s history is honestly reviewed, warts and all, including the infamous “watermelon sword” episode in which two appraisers concocted a scenario to inflate the value of a Confederate weapon. The fraud resulted in a strict code of conduct for all Antiques Roadshow appraisers.

Hundreds of color photos feature happy (or shocked) collectors and treasures brought to the show, and profile the team in front of and behind the cameras. Bemko also recalls her favorite appraisal stories, and first on her list is Lark Mason being overcome with emotion as he views a carved marble lion from China (valued at more than $100,000).

But her fondest reminiscences are reserved for “ordinary people collecting what they love without really knowing, or caring, what the pieces may be worth.” And that, in a nutshell, sums up the appeal of this book, and the continued success of Antiques Roadshow. It’s not just the appraisers or the objects, but the curious collectors — whether shy or outrageous — that draw us to the show.

This will make an ideal gift for the antique lover on your Christmas list, no matter what their collecting passion.

Antique Roadshow Behind the Scenes by Marsha Bemko 2009 Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, 182 pages, paperback.

Mark F. Moran is Senior Editor, Antiques and Collectibles Books, at Krause Publications, Iola, Wis.


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