#WorthPoint #Attends #Taping #Antiques #Roadshow #WorthPoint
NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Bucket list update. Earn a black belt in karate. Check. Meet an Olympic gold medalist. Check. Attend a taping of Antiques Roadshow. Check!
I recently interviewed Marsha Bemko, Executive Producer of Antiques Roadshow, for WorthPoint. She graciously invited my husband and me to the taping of ARS held in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 11, 2022. What an adventure!
Like many people-oriented events, Antiques Roadshow had a rough go because of COVID’s last two years. “It was tough,” Bemko states. “We are an educational and informative program, but Antiques Roadshow works because of the interaction between the appraisers and the public.”
In 2020, Antiques Roadshow did celebrity shows where appraisers visited a celebrity’s home walking through and appraising items as they found them. It was fun. It was interesting, but it wasn’t the real deal.
In 2021, the shows currently airing on GBH-TV took a step towards normalcy. Interested parties wishing to have items appraised submitted photos of their pieces to the show via email or snail mail. The appraisers then culled the exquisite from the more common, and the owners of the items chosen to be appraised were contacted. “We asked if they would like to be taped for the show, “Bemko explains, “But with the understanding that the taping of the appraisal would be done very differently.”
“Differently” means that those having their items appraised had to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask while on set. The mask would only be removed during the appraisal. Each attendee/guest was given a specific time to be on the set, which was limited to the camera crew, producers, appraiser, and guest. The guest’s appraisal would then take place. Afterward, the guest would have a chance to do a bit for the “Feedback Booth” segment, and then the guest left the set so this scenario could be repeated with others waiting their turn for an appraisal.
“We were extremely cautious,” Bemko states.
“And though this taping was really the first time the appraisers saw the items they were going to discuss, they had loads of time to research the item before the show, which is not the norm. What remained the same, though, was the owner of the item and the appraiser—their first discussion about the item was done while being taped. And, there are no do-overs. The appraiser gets one shot at the conversation, and that is how we capture the emotional reaction of the owner of the item, and that’s what makes the show great.”
The taping of the 2022 season of Antiques Roadshow is as “back to normal” as it gets. Masses of people were standing in line once again. Masks were not required, but proof of vaccination was.
The first venue for Antiques Roadshow for 2022 was Cheekwood Estates & Gardens, a fifty-five-acre botanical garden just minutes away from downtown Nashville. Those who had snagged a ticket came with their two items to be appraised, stood in line, spoke with the appraisers, and hung around to be taped for the show if their items were chosen.
Antiques Roadshow will get three episodes from this event, so the crew and the appraisers were quite busy pulling it all together, though they made it appear effortless.
“It was just fantastic to be back with everyone again,” Bemko states. “The crew of Antiques Roadshow and the appraisers—we are great friends. The last two years were hard. We missed each other tremendously.”
The experience at Antiques Roadshow for me and my husband, Scott, was very exciting. We were permitted to bring several items for appraisal, so even though I was there as “Press,” we got the full feel of what it is like to be an Antiques Roadshow attendee.
Our first stop was check-in for the Press. We met our guides for the day, Geraldine Garces, an Antiques Roadshow Marketing Assistant, and Demee Gambulous, Director of Brand Marketing and Audience Development. With credentials in place and Geraldine and Demee leading the way, we began our experience.
Our next stop was “triage.” Staff looked at what we had brought and determined which category each item fell under. We were given a card showing each item’s specific category and then headed for those tables.
Of the items we brought to Antiques Roadshow, the appraisal of one was a bit more exciting than the others. I had with me a cardboard mailing tube with a postmark of 1954. The tube and its contents were addressed to my now eighty-eight-year-old mom and dated to her college days when she took an education course at Purdue University. Her class assignment was to create a lesson plan using visuals to capture the students’ attention. Mom’s lesson plan was about traveling out West in the United States. She had written to the Sante Fe Railroad Company asking for a poster showing train travel.
In that tube were ten Santa Fe Railroad travel posters from 1954. We brought these to Antiques Roadshow at Mom’s request to determine if they had value.
Demee and Geraldine directed us to the “Posters” table and appraiser Nicholas D. Lowry, president of Swann Auction Galleries in New York City. He is also the principal auctioneer and director of the Poster department at Swann. Anyone who watches ARS will know him immediately, as Lowry is always nattily dressed in a checkered suit and sports an impressive handlebar mustache.
A bonus of being Press and having Demee as your guide was the easy access to the appraisers. Demee would pull the appraiser aside, tell him or her that I was with WorthPoint, and then we would be graciously bumped to the head of the line to have our item appraised.
Lowry was so easy to talk to and informative. Takeaways from our appraisal of the series of posters included Lowry stating,
“Santa Fe was known for being very accommodating about sending out free posters when requested. Your set of posters looked to have seen little handling. Posters usually show damage from use. They are in very good shape, which is great.
“I also love you have the original mailing tube with a clear postmark. Santa Fe distributed posters like these from the early 1950s to the late 1950s. The postmark indicates these were from that earlier time frame.
“Of the posters, those with just trains and no words or actual locations are not as valuable, and when we get these to sell at auction, we usually put those of just train images together to sell as a lot. They usually bring about $400 for two or three examples selling together.
“But Santa Fe posters of the Grand Canyon or other destinations—those are more desirable. We had a Grand Canyon example like this sell for $1,500 just a month ago, and your set consists mainly of destination posters. So for the entire set, with some posters being more desirable than others, their value altogether would range in the $4,000 to $8,000 range. A very nice group.”
Well, how about that!!
Side note. These posters almost ended up in the trash. My husband and I were helping Mom clean out her attic several years ago. She put in the trash a box filled with half rolls of wallpaper that had, at one point, decorated her home. Thankfully, my husband looked through the box, found this cardboard tube filled with posters, and rescued it before it was in a dumpster!
Fun things experienced during our day at Antiques Roadshow include meeting Marsha Bemko and witnessing someone at the painting table being pulled aside by Bemko as she discussed with the guest about being taped for the show.
We saw several “Over-The-Shoulder” appraisals being done, where the camera crew stands behind the appraiser at their table and tapes someone having his or her items appraised on the spot. Such mini appraisals are used as filler and segue to the more detailed appraisals seen during an episode of Antiques Roadshow.
Three separate sets were in place for the actual filming of the more in-depth guest/appraiser segments for which Antiques Roadshow is known. One woman with a piece of jewelry waited patiently with friends, and I believe her mom, for her turn at being taped. The appraiser, Kevin Zavian, a third-generation jeweler who acts as a consultant appraiser concerning watches, jewelry, and cameras for Doyle New York, sat right next to the guest. Still, they did not communicate until they were on set and the cameras started to roll.
ARS attendees, including Press like myself, had to stand a distance away, behind all the lights, cameras, and gear, to watch an actual taping. But, the woman’s shock at hearing the value of the item she brought was evident by her smile.
The line for the “Feedback Booth” was impressive. Many people waited patiently for their chance to show what they had brought, give a quick one or two lines about their experience, and hope their bit would make the cut and be shown on-air when this Nashville taping runs in 2023.
The Cheekwood venue was spectacular, the weather gorgeous, and it never felt like there was a crush of people. There was lots of “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing over what guests had with them to be appraised. Endless appraisals with lots of smiles and excitement were the norm.
But I expected nothing less from our adventure on-set at Antiques Roadshow. Antiques Roadshow will be hosting several more events like this in 2022.
Snag yourself a ticket and attend a show. Experiencing the creation of this PBS powerhouse program is everything viewers think it is—and more.
Susan Nutter has written about antiques and collectibles for 30-plus years. When not attending antique shows and auctions, she and her husband, Scott, maintain 50 beehives on their 65-acre tree farm in northeast Ohio, where they also produce maple syrup and sell honey, beeswax, and honeybees.
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