Monday, November 16, 2015

10 things overheard at the Antiques Roadshow

I love the Antiques Roadshow.  It's a terrific show where people from all walks of life bring their junk in and see if it's worth anything.  It seems that there are 3 levels of value at the Antiques roadshow.  A life chainging amount of money (new house or better), A Car changing amount of money, or a debt changing amount of money (doesn't get you more than a paid off credit card).  After quite a while of watching this show, I've decided that there are about 10 things you see regularly on the show.  here they are.

- Provenance - Before the antiques road show the average person thought Provenance might be the capital of Rhode Island.  Now anyone watching public TV knows about Provenance and how it's important that you not only have the signature of the artist etc, but better if you get a handwritten note that is signed dated and reviewed by a notary.  Other terms that fit this category are patina and foxing.

- Well I guess I won't put my used fireplace matches in it anymore - When something that looks like a bit of melted glass that turns out to be something from the Ming Dynasty this will sometimes be said.  Now usually this phrase or something like it is the good natured visitor's attempt at humor.  Generally the expert will then parrot the phrase and say 'Well he he he no, you shouldn't do that'  and a good time was had by all.

- The build up - This is where the professional has lost sight of what may be leading the visitor on about the value of their item.  They start out by saying things like 'well this is a fantastic example of...' and 'We've never seen one of these in this kind of condition.  One minute later will see the visitor with a big grin and a bit of drool in the corner of their mouth.  The example plays something like this:

...This is one of the best examples of early matchbook covers that we've ever seen.  In fact the co co club of Hoboken New Jersey went up in flames in 1890 and nobody thought any of the matchbooks had survived.  You have not only the matchbook but all of the matches in tact and stuck to the strike board with the original glue.  This really is an incredible find and a bit of history of New Jersey...

Then they hear that this book of matches from the coco club in New Jersey is worth 20 dollars.  That crestfallen look says it all.  It's even better when the expert continues to go on about how great it is that they have seen this great find even as the value is sadly scrolling across the bottom of the screen with that magic sparkle effect that only 5 minutes prior was being used to display the price of a native American pot worth 120k.

- I'm worth more than this - So the expert is looking at your felt sad clown faces.  Yes it's a collector item, but yack.  Well as an expert in sad clown paintings you are going to give it your all.  Some experts at the ARS don't get a lot of screen time so when that rare clown painting shows up, you can bet they are going to flog that painting for all it's worth!  They go on and on about this bit of artistic fluff that will end up being worth 200 dollars if it's the best one, but by gum that expert is going to get their 15 minutes of fame.  Stinking Keno brothers shouldn't have ALL the screen time.

- Do you have any idea of it's value? - You'll hear this all program long.  over and over.  Do you have any idea of it's value?  The answer will nearly always be 'No idea at all' followed by a low-ball that couldn't possibly be it's value.  The answers that do not follow this pattern will be 'Well we had it appraised X years ago and I think it was worth Y'.  Where Y is another low-ball estimate.  Often the visitor thinks that by playing dumb they will get a better price out of the current expert on the spot than from the pawn shop they had taken it to a week earlier.

- This damage does ____ to the value - This is such a curve ball.  You have a painting or a statue that has some discoloration or a broken bit on the corner.  sometimes, the damage has brought this from a 400,000 piece of art to a 4,000 piece of junk (relatively).  it's a shame really.  and other times they say 'Yes the arm is missing from this figure, but It shouldn't affect the value.  This is the experts way of playing with the visitor, and the viewer alike.  How can damage ever be inconsequential?  Well watch ARS and you'll see just how often it doesn't mean a thing and how often it was the difference between early retirement and 'Welcome to Walmart'.

- Well I got this at a garage sale for 5 dollars - This is the regular saw given by people hoping to show that they have a natural eye for value.  Often similar phrases are 'I just fell in love with it' and 'It caught my eye and I couldn't leave without it!' or the popular 'Well I saw it in a dumpster next to a bio-hazard container and I thought it might be worth something'   They all mean the same thing.  I think my mutant ability is being able to see a fantastic value in the midst of garbage.

- I know more about this thing than you do! - Once in a while the zig will zag and the person bringing in the piece not only knows it's value, but has had it appraised over and over.  The ONLY reason they have brought their treasure to the Antiques roadshow is to BRAG.  The expert goes on a bit and then the visitor rolls into the entire provenance but will stop short of the estimate.  They of course want to see what the value will be in case its quite a bit higher and they can go back home and brag some more.

- It will stay in the family - This is visitor code for 'Well that wasn't worth nearly what I though it was'  They want to be gracious about the value, but they don't want to give it away that really they were hoping this meant retirement and not a new roof on the house.  Along with this you may here 'well isn't that nice' and 'Oh that's something'  But you can see in their eyes that this wasn't NEAR what they hoped it would be.  And for some reason, that usually makes me happy.  Call it one of my numerous character flaws.

- Louis Comfort Tiffany - Often, you will hear about a Tiffany vase or lamp.  But when the expert talks about it, they will only ever use the entire name.  Because you wouldn't want to confuse the piece with something by the dubious Louis Slackjaw Tiffany.  Other people you don't want to confuse with their more famous counter parts are Rembrandt van Rind and Fred Lloyd Wright and Mark Walberg.

Support public TV.  It's fun.

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