Trash or Treasure: Roadshow recap - Lucky guests reveal behind-the-scenes experiences
For collectors, the chance to attend and appear on "Antiques Roadshow" is akin to the Holy Grail. Thousands of treasure hunters tune in weekly to PBS’ popular and long-running show and dream of one day making the cut themselves.
Metro Detroit’s own Meadow Brook Hall was the location of three recent episodes that were filmed during a stop last summer at the local landmark. Participants are considered top secret until the episodes air, but we recently caught up with lucky Detroiters Dan R. and John M. (it’s the policy of “Antiques Roadshow” to not use last names) who appeared in the recent episodes. Below they share the inside story on what it’s like to be chosen and ultimately appear on the show.
How long have you been watching "Roadshow"?
Dan R: Approximately 25 years; I am a huge fan.
John M.: Maybe 20 years? How long has it been on?
Why did you attend? How did you get tickets?
DR: It’s a fun day of “people with their stuff” watching. To get tickets, I first tried Detroit Public TV raffle and was rejected. Another email came inviting me to “tell us your story” and I wrote out the story of how I found this Grotell piece and submitted it.
JM: It’s really hard to get tickets. My cousin had everyone in her office go online and try. She got a pair and the person who was going to go with her couldn’t go and she asked me instead.
What did you bring? Where did you get it and what did you pay?
DR: I brought three items—autographed Joe DiMaggio letter and photo ($300), Japanese woodblock print from ‘30s ($300) and ceramic vase from Maija Grotell. The Grotell vase was purchased in an east side Detroit antique shop in 1998 for $40 and I had the receipt. Grotell was the head of ceramics at Cranbrook. David Rago appraised it at $3,000-$4,000.
JM: I brought a civil war era shawl that someone was throwing out. It was indeed from 1870s ($200-$300). The second thing was Civil Rights posters I bought at a garage sale in Ferndale four or five years ago. They were just rolled up and in rough condition. I think I paid $1 for all three. I’m a heavy collector of film and music posters but didn’t have any idea of what these were worth. He said they were worth $7,000 to $10,000 at auction.
What was the experience like? Was it what you expected?
DR: Talking with people in line about their stuff was fun. I liked hearing the stories. Appraisers were nice and respectful of the people in line. Everything was extremely organized from the minute you walked in.
JM: I didn’t know what to expect. After seeing my posters they immediately asked me if I was interested in being filmed. They sent me to makeup in a big room in Meadow Brook and there were all kinds of volunteers behind the scenes. I was disappointed that none of the other people I was hanging out with while we waited got on the show. One person had a great Lichtenstein print and even that didn’t make it.
DR: Getting interviewed and taped by these appraisers that you’ve been watching for years. I told someone that this is like the Oscars for junkers.
JM: The value of my items were a huge surprise. Another surprise was that everyone filmed didn’t end up on the show. I didn’t know I was going to be on until they used some of my pictures in the promotions for the Meadow Brook episodes.
Was there a long wait?
DR: Got the first two appraisals done in 90 minutes. We waited a couple hours to get taped for the vase. Beautiful day and we waited outside.
JM: I waited about an hour and a half. Everyone was super nice.
What advice would you give others who would like to be on future shows?
DR: Go to Roadshow for the experience and education; getting taped was fun bonus.
JM: It’s good to have a story. Obviously my return on a 75-cent investment propelled me but the pictures told their own story and my segment fittingly was aired on Martin Luther King Day.
Favorite Roadshow moment?
DR: Executive producer Marsha Bemko came over and asked me questions about the pot and my life. I also liked how well researched David Rago was when he came out to interview me. He clearly brushed up on the artist during the time we were waiting and came out full of facts.
JM: The actual appraisals were really fun. They took time with everything. You were talking to some real experts. It was cool to be around people who knew so much. We all shared an interest in old things.
What kind of reaction did you get after you were on the show?
DR: Lots of notes from people all over the country. One friend had never watched the show but watched because she knew I was going to be on it and now she’s hooked! She said she liked learning so much history by listening to the stories behind each item.
JM: My phone just blew up… especially from people who didn’t know I was going to be on. I had posted it on Facebook so people at work knew. We had a preview and my teacher friends even baked a cake for me.
Send in your treasures!
Missed the recent :"Antiques Roadshow" stop in Detroit but still curious about your collectibles? We have two appraisal sessions coming up in the near future and are accepting applications for spots. The first will be held with appraiser Brian Thomczek at the Michigan Design Center on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 10 am. The second will be held with appraisers from DuMouchelles Auction House and Art Gallery in downtown Detroit on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 10 am. There is no fee but you must be available to bring your item in and be willing to be featured with it in an upcoming column.
To be considered, send a photo of your item along with how you acquired it, your date and location preference and your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.