Antiques Roadshow on PBS Television


Antiques Roadshow’s 2008 tour uncovered a typically diverse range of antiques and collectibles. The series’ producers, crew, and appraisers traveled to six cities, each of which attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 attendees, each of whom brought two items.

Reporting: Larry Canale, Diane L. Muhlfeld, Jane Viator

Insider covered all six shows, reporting on them every month from our August 2008 through December 2008 issues. Along the way, we got a first-hand look at all kinds of treasures. Many of them were heirlooms passed down through generations within a family. But we also saw a good number of amazing finds --- valuable pieces uncovered at little or no cost. Here, we’ll take a look at five of our favorite finds from the summer ’08 tour. 

1] CARNIVAL CLASSIC: Pat brought an eye-catching piece of carnival glass called “Rose Show” to Antiques Roadshow’s Grand Rapids, Mich., event. The bowl was created in an unusual color called “aqua opalescent.” Pat’s husband discovered it in a just-as-unusual way: in the walls of a house he was renovating.

Seattle-based appraiser Kathy Bailey notes that while there’s plenty of carnival glass around, Pat’s piece is an uncommon pattern, shape, and color, and it’s in perfect condition. As such, the bowl should be insured at around $2,000, Bailey said.

If Pat’s husband can locate the matching plate hiding somewhere, the value of that plate would be $10,000, Bailey added.

2] CARTOON ART: At a tag sale around 20 years ago, Mike and Joanne of Woodbridge, N.J., found a trove of original art depicting the Monkees, Peanuts, Barbie & Pals, Superman, and Batman --- all of it in the bottom of a box of art supplies labeled “Standard Plastic Products.” The price they paid: $5. Value of the art today: $15,000–$20,000 at auction, according to appraiser Gary Sohmers.

The artwork, explained Sohmers during the Hartford, Conn., Antiques Roadshow, was created to decorate 1960s-era lunchboxes, doll cases, wallets, and tote bags.

3] ON THE ROAD (LITERALLY): Brian went to the Wichita Antiques Roadshow with a hood ornament made for a car, hoping to find out what it’s worth. The silvered bronze rendering of a winged figure was made between 1920 and 1934. The artist: Frenchman Frederic Bazin, one of many talented designers who created these finishing touches for luxury cars.

Brian brought in the car mascot on behalf of a friend, whose mother found it on a roadside some years ago. Nice find: Appraiser Kathleen Guzman of Heritage Auction Galleries said the hood ornament is worth around $6,000.

If the ornament hadn’t found its way to Antiques Roadshow, it may have wound up on eBay, Brian said. And without a detailed and accurate description, it might well have been assumed to be a reproduction and sold for a fraction of its true value.

4] THE SPLENDID GOLFER: Just when you think that flea market finds have dried up, you hear a story like the one told by Mike, another attendee at the Hartford Antiques Roadshow. Mike recently picked up a vintage set of golf clubs for $25 at the town-wide antiques show in Brimfield, Mass. He was drawn to them by an engraving on the club heads: “The Splendid Splinter.”

As baseball fans know, “The Splendid Splinter” is the one and only Ted Williams. Could these clubs have belonged to the Red Sox great? A stained label on the dilapidated box that held the clubs gives us the answer. It reads: “Mr. Ted Williams, c/o Washington Senators, John F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington, DC.”

Williams, of course, managed the Senators in 1969, 1970, and ‘71, and then moved with the club when it became the Texas Rangers in 1972. Appraiser Leila Dunbar speculates that MacGregor created the set of clubs for “Teddy Ballgame” as a gift and shipped them off to D.C.

Judging by the pristine condition of the clubs, Williams never used them. And it’s unknown whether he gave them away or left them in Washington when the Senators vacated JFK Stadium. Either way, they wound up with an attractive price tag at Brimfield. The $25 Mike paid to get them was a steal: The clubs --- woods, irons, box, and all --- might sell for $2,000–$2,500 at auction, according to Dunbar.

Ironically, it’s the beat-up mailing label that gives the “Splendid Splinter” clubs their value. It provides clear-cut evidence that the set was made for Williams. Without the label, Dunbar said, the clubs might be worth around $250.

5] THE ULTIMATE HOUSEWARMING GIFT: Sometimes a find is hanging right on your wall. Consider the 1937 painting by Clyfford Still, brought to the Palm Springs, Calif., Antiques Roadshow by Elizabeth.

Clyfford Still was a well-known American abstract expressionist who worked in California in the 1940s. The painting Elizabether owns isn’t typical of Still’s work; it’s a representational picture by an artist known mainly for large abstract works featuring jagged flashes of brilliant color. 

Appraiser Alasdair Nichol of Freeman’s in Philadelphia was so impressed with Still’s painting that he gave it a $500,000 insurance value, ranking it among the most valuable items ever appraised on Antiques Roadshow.

Elizabeth explained that years ago, she and her husband, a faculty member at Washington State University, received the painting as a housewarming gift from the university’s department head, to whom it had been inscribed by the artist (Still was also teaching there at the time). The kindly original owner felt sorry for the young couple with bare walls, so he helped them out --- quite a generous example of “re-gifting”!


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