AT Inbox: Readers sound off on Roadshow trips

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I read with great interest the long letter from the “Antiques Roadshow” guest, giving his perspective on the experience.

I have been to three Roadshows: Philadelphia, Baltimore and Atlantic City, N.J. In Philadelphia, my carefully displayed collection of hand-painted porcelain brooches was sniffed at by the jewelry appraiser as “pottery,” and he turned away. Two other appraisers, whom I think were as shocked by his attitude as I, (and I’d add hurt, in my case) tried very hard to smooth things over, congratulating me on how I had displayed them, concentrating on themes and shapes.

The other item I brought, some playing cards from the late 1800s, which had pictures of black children on them, just got a shrug. It was a very disappointing experience.

So, I decided to try again in Baltimore. No more success. In fact, the appraiser there was even ruder about my hand-tinted tin type. If I knew what it was, why had I brought it? (I wanted to know if it could be cleaned, but I didn’t ask). I also brought a small cast-iron horse that had been my grandfather’s. I wanted to know what it could have been used for. It seemed too small to be a doorstop and too rough for a book end. The appraiser said he didn’t know (he didn’t add he didn’t care, but it was obvious).

I felt so bad about this experience that I stopped watching “Roadshow.” But the lure drew me back when they were in Atlantic City.

At least the appraisers at this show were very nice and civil. The doll appraiser took a long time looking at and sorting through the old porcelain dolls my mother had, and gave me information about them. They weren’t terribly valuable but I found the information very helpful. Again, my main interest was how I could clean them safely and I got an answer: Don’t try; you’ll ruin them.

My carved picture frames were given respect by the appraiser. He gave me information on them that let me know they probably were wedding gifts to my great-grandmother and not my grandmother.

I found that the majority of the appraisers, especially the high-profile ones, are only looking for things that will get them on camera. Their knowledge is very limited to their niche, and if your item doesn’t fall into it, they give you the bum’s rush. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You probably know more about this than I do” coming from appraisal tables.

The best part of the entire experience is talking to the other collectors who are waiting in line. Everyone loved showing off what they had and telling stories about their collecting experiences. If you love “stuff,” you love hearing about other people’s “stuff.”

I think it’s time for a less “highbrow” collecting show. I used to love Harry Rinker’s show. It was real people who had real stuff, and it was interesting.

HGTV used to have wonderful antique and collecting shows, too, as did FX, a long time ago, a show called “PersonalFX.”

I had a friend in Baltimore who had a truly wonderful collection of boxed Edwardian hatpin sets (hatpins, collar buttons and belt buckles in a box). The appraiser loved them and wanted them on camera. My friend made the mistake of telling the truth about them when the producer came by to decide on whether she got on camera or not: She just collected them because she thought they were beautiful. It wasn’t an interesting story, so no camera time. We’ve laughed about it since then that she should have said that her grandmother’s fiancée gave them to her before going off to World War I, he never returned, and she kept them in memory of her true love, and the love story had her great-granddaughter start collecting other such sets!

Ah, well, I’ve wasted enough of your time. I just wanted to say as a veteran Roadshow “contestant” that it is an interesting experience, but you have to know the big-name appraisers are there for themselves, not for you. I guess that’s understandable, but the rudeness and obvious disinterest are both very disheartening.

Thank you.

Beth Morgera
via e-mail

Roadshow comments can be tossed ‘out the window’

Regarding Mr. Rogan’s comments concerning the AR, everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. However, in this case, his sarcastic remarks about the show will “go over my head” and “out the window.”

I, like thousands, love this TV show, and if it is not liked by others, then they can change channels!

Barbara Tripp
Irvona, PA

Appraisal didn’t pan out

This is in response to Ed Rogan’s comments on the Roadshow appraisals. I feel he is totally accurate. I bought some items that were appraised back in 1999-2000. The items were WPA theatre puppets from Philadelphia Workers in Progress.

Although I love the items, I can tell you that the appraisal of $2,400 for each set group was out of line. I did end up paying $4,000 for two sets. I have taken them to shows, and people admire them. They even appeared in an early “Antiques Roadshow” calendar.

I know a few of the appraisers who are featured, and I’m friends with two of them. They are volunteers and go to the “Antiques Roadshow” on their own expense, but they also have those beautiful business cards on that table. Appraisers cannot approach directly, but they can hand out their business cards, just in case.

Connie Blain
Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Does anyone remember ‘Moon Juice?’

One of my Antique Trader issues reminded me of something, and I’d like to know if you ever heard of it! After the moon trip, Neil Armstrong returned to his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, for a parade in his honor. My mother attended the event and has a few bottles of green “Moon Juice” soda that had been locally produced for the event. I have not seen or heard of it since then.

Neil and Mother have the same birthday and were in the second grade together in Saint Marys, Ohio, before his family moved to Wapakoneta. When I was a little girl, we used to visit with his maternal grandparents for after church dinners. Little could I know then how I’d later deeply honor their Neil!! So, do you have any information on “Moon Juice”?

Kathleen Roby
via e-mail

I’ve never heard of this neato, space race commemorative but maybe our readers have. Responses may be sent to the addresses above. –Editor


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