Ah, the Antiques Roadshow, the Mecca for antique lovers and collectors. Who among us has not watched this well-loved show and marveled at the treasures seemingly ordinary people like me (and maybe you) have in their homes?
When a dear friend from college invited me to accompany her to the recent event in New York City, I jumped at the chance, grateful for the opportunity. She and her sister had entered the lottery for tickets. Sis had won, but couldn't attend - so my friend Anne and I were the lucky recipients.
We met up at Penn Station, caught up over breakfast, and walked over three long avenue blocks to the Jacob Javits Center. I had a love-hate relationship with the Javits Center - I took the bar (shiver) and passed it too, there, several years ago. But Saturday our trip was purely for pleasure, and the Javits Center shed all its unpleasant associations, with the good karma of excited, friendly hords, each clutching their booty.
The show is well-organized. Upon entrance, tickets are checked, and you are directed to the appropriate line, based upon the time you entered the building. We were assigned to the 11am line, conveniently rapid moving and a direct path to the rest rooms. It was easy to make friends in line. The ladies in front of us were about to become mothers-in-law, and told us their children were marrying in two weeks. One had a Chinese bronze, the other an early American painting, unsigned. The woman in back of us had a very interesting "last rites" kit her Irish grandmother had had in her house, complete with candles and instructions. A young woman joining the end of the line carried a spectacular gold sequined Broadway costume. I asked her if it fit, and she excitedly told me yes, and that she had just had her picture taken in it. Across the way, a good son was helping his mother bring two ladder back chairs.
When we reached the head of the line, we were directed to a table where an assistant took a quick peak at our pieces, and gave us tickets for the appropriate appraisal line. I got a ticket for Pottery and Silver, and Anne got a ticket for Asian Art and Tribal.
We started with Tribal. This line was surprisingly long, surpassed only by Asian Art, Paintings and Jewelry. Anne found out that a little statue from her aunt's estate was a whistle from Central America. It was not worth much, but we both were far more interested in finding out about our pieces than the monetary value. We next went to silver, because the line was fairly short. I had a small, exquisite single serving tea set. The appraiser looked at me sadly and told me it was plate, not sterling. I assured him I knew this and didn't care. He wasn't able to shed much light on the set, except to say he thought it dated from the early 1900s. From there we went to pottery. I had brought a small pitcher I obtained near Limours, green glazed outside, yellow inside.
The first words out the appraiser's mouth were: "It's not a taker." He told me it was European, and only identified it as French after I told him where I bought it. I was a little surprised he didn't pronounce it French right away, as the green and yellow is such a traditional glaze combination in Provence. However, I did learn that it was a measuring cup of 1/8 of a liter, it was fired on an electric kiln, and was probably made in the 50s or 60s. He told me sternly that I should not have paid more than 5 euros for it. I told him quite cheerfully: "That's exactly what I paid for it!" I still consider it one of my treasures though, for the proportion of its shape and the emerald green glaze.
Finally, we waited a long time in the Asian Art line. Who knew there was so much Asian Art in private homes in America? Anne's mother had a Chinese bronze, which was the big winner of the day. Score! At least one item broke the three figure mark. After a quick beer and a snack, we bid adieu and hied to our respective homes.
It was a very fun day, a little hard on the feet from so much standing, but seeing all the beautiful items, meeting all the people - so friendly - and learning a bit more about what we had made it worth the trip.