An Antiques Roadie (for a day) Tells All

Early last year, I, along with 27,000 of my closest friends, applied for tickets to the Antiques Roadshow taping in Grand Rapids August 9th, 2008. Before learning whether I would be one of the 3,400 folks randomly selected by lottery to receive tickets, I got an even better offer. I was invited to volunteer for the day.

This was, in my own personal view of the world, a thrill. Not only would I get to go in and have a couple things appraised, which by the way, volunteers do too, I would get to hang around the whole day watching everybody else do that. The fact that I had to spend really very nearly the equivalent of two full work days in one mostly on my feet did freakishly little to dampen my enthusiasm. Yeah, they had me with the blue golf shirt with the AR logo. I mean, what’s that going to be worth in twenty years, right?

So, now I’m a seasoned insider and I’m willing to tell all.

I started out the day greeting folks who were getting through the line and escorting them to the appropriate dealer on the set. After about a half hour, I greeted folks getting through the line and escorted them to the end of another line of folks waiting for the appropriate dealer on the set. Unless you’re in that very first group, it takes a good couple of hours to get through lines. And if you bring something heavy, you carry it all that time – otherwise it gets tricky for the AR folks in regard to liability.

Except for the Keno brothers (am I the only one who demands my husband call “Leslie” or “Leigh” when one of them appears while we’re watching at home?) who must have had severe stomach flu or something, I recognized so many of the dealers, like tall-guy-with-the-wild-suits-who-does-the-posters, pretty-lady-with-the-pixie-hair-cut-who-pronounces-Weller-like-‘Wayler’-pottery, and guy-who-cried-about-the-Asian-stone-dragon.

One of their furniture appraisers spent a considerable amount of time the week before the taping researching furniture here in our local history department. He didn’t identify himself but I suspected and sure enough, he was there. He gave us a nice tip on a potential acquisition.

The elder of the father and son distinguished looking guys with gray hair who do watches and jewelry called me “kiddo”, and then told me my ring from the mysterious and wealthy distant relative was worth about three hundred bucks.

The average value of items appraised on the show is under a hundred dollars. In Grand Rapids the top valued item was a Stickly music cabinet worth eighty to a hundred thousand dollars. You may have heard there was someone walking around with giant lances used by those Cossack-looking people who guarded the Wicked Witch of the West on the set of the Wizard of Oz. You see everything at AR . I spent half the day saying, “Omigosh, I used to have one of those!” and half the day saying, “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!”

Alright and I know you’ve wondered before if it could be possible for something to get broken on the set of AR – oh, man, right and left. Two hours in line makes it way too likely that you are going to set something down eventually and the guy behind you is going to step on it. I saw things get smashed, kicked, dropped. That is why they won’t handle anything for you until you get to the dealer.

So now you’ve had a glimpse behind the orange and blue banners. Enjoy the show when it airs on WGVU beginning Monday. Was I disappointed about my ring? Well, sure, but my comic book is worth about 20 times that. Its’ cool too. In fact, you probably can’t live without it. Give me a call!

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