Warhol, Wizards, and Dolls: Here's the Cool Stuff of the Antiques Roadshow in New York
Antiques Roadshow host Mark L. Walberg
All photos by Nate "Igor" Smith
It was hard to avoid comparing the New York stop of the Antiques Roadshow to a low-key casino without the seedy underbelly. The temperature in the Javits Center on Saturday was meat locker-freezing, Rascal scooters zipped by every few minutes (often with paintings and other wrapped ephemera jammed in to the footholds and baskets), bottled water was $4, and everyone was there with the hope of big money.
Although people's possessions were (theoretically) among their most prized, most packing approaches were decidedly post-collegiate -- beer coolers, dingy towels, and Duane Reade bags seemed to be the vessels of choice for most attendees.
Perhaps the most surprising (and weirdly heartwarming) aspect of the Roadshow taping was that nearly everyone intended to keep his or her items, regardless of the appraisal outcomes. Either people are less dead inside than expected, or shows like Antiques Roadshow have turned us all into hoarders.
Here's a tour of the Roadshow's stop in NYC, which will divided into three episodes during the show's 19th season, which begins January 5. The full Season 19 order will be determined in the fall and posted at pbs.org/antiques or thirteen.org.
Check the show's list of upcoming episodes to see when it will air.
Firearm check-in sign. To the right of this was a table with three police officers and a police dog.
Chris. Location: Howell, New Jersey Antique: Firearms
These antique firearms, belonging to Chris's merchant marine grandfather, were the only ones spotted at the Roadshow. The plastic tags hanging off the guns are trigger locks, a mandatory security precaution applied as part of a rigorous check at the entrance.
Arms and militaria appraiser Christopher Mitchell examining an antique rifle stock that he ultimately valued at up to $10,000. "These guns aren't fireable, they're not practical, they're just collectibles. Technically, in this country, any firearm made before 1898 is just like buying a painting. In New York, Chicago, and a couple of other cities, they try to supersede it. Nobody's gonna hold up the 7-Eleven with a dragoon. I guess you could but you could also do it with an axe."
Buddy. Location: Connecticut Antique: 19th century rifle stock Anticipated value: unknown, paid $50 at a yard sale Appraised value: up to $10,000
Buddy, a Connecticut gun enthusiast, had an inkling that this gun part was valuable but was stunned by just how much it was worth. Buddy was one of only a handful of attendees in the arms and militaria line and also brought an antique Louis Vuitton gun case (appraised at $400). Let no one accuse Buddy of being a basic bitch.
The filming and appraisal area, in which everyone was tripping over themselves to avoid an accidental toe on to the blue carpet (which delineated the filming zone).
Collectibles appraiser James Supp evaluates a distressing fur unicorn, which turned out to be made of dog hair (photographer's own).
More photos are on the next page.
Yvonne Location: Custom-made smiley face jacket from early 1970s Anticipated value: Unknown Appraised value: $1,500
Yvonne bought her casual smiley face blazer for $5 from a woman who worked for the Spiegel catalog (from which you can now purchase a somber jacket the color of ennui). It was custom-designed for a photo shoot and is the only one of its kind. Despite the flawless fit and overwhelmingly positive response to the jacket, Yvonne says that she only brings it out for special occasions.
Patrice. Location: Manhattan Antique: Set piece from 1966 Red Grooms and Mimi Gross film, Fat Feet. Anticipated value: "It could be $100, it could be more." Appraised value: ~$10,000
Patrice had the kind of New York story that's rapidly facing extinction. She and her husband live in a loft formerly inhabited by legendary multimedia artist Red Grooms and his collaborator/wife Mimi Gross. When he moved, the artist left several pieces, including this taxi from the set of his 1966 film, Fat Feet (potentially the greatest thing you've ever seen) as well as fantastical loft fittings like a life-sized turreted castle -- now the couple's bedroom -- and a brightly-colored cat house that would probably make a killing on Airbnb.
Bob and Carol. Location: Glasstown, New Jersey Antique: 1983 Kay Ritter papier mache sculpture Anticipated value: "I wasn't worried about dollar value. I spent $275 because it was just so unusual." Appraised value: $200 to $400. Side note: a 2006 auction site has a similar Kay Ritter piece estimated at $9,000 to $12,000.
We initially mistook Bob and Carol's 1983 Kay Ritter sculpture for an eccentrically dressed child. As it turns out, he is just as beloved as a member of the family. Of their drive to the Roadshow, they said, "we put him in the backseat, hoping we didn't get pulled over. He was very quiet, he's a good passenger."
Abandoned artwork on the main floor.
Matt. Location: Clifton, New Jersey Antique: James Janney wizard illustration Matt was extremely eager to point out the Betty Page pinup in the corner of this illustration by his Uncle, James Janney. A few hours later, he was headed for the doors, deterred by the interminable painting line. Sadly, Matt is not a practitioner of the Dark Arts.
Natasha. Location: Portland, Maine
Natasha knew her 1950s deco style vase, handed down from her grandfather, had to be worth something since she and her brother weren't allowed to play around it as a kid. With a $450 appraisal, she must be glad she didn't manhandle it while her parents weren't looking.
Kristine. Location: Wooster, Massachusetts Antique: dolls from 1853 and 1875, handed down from her great grandmother and great-great grandmother. Anticipated value: no idea.
One of Kristine's dolls was making penetrating eye contact from across the appraisal area. Of the dolls, she said: "this one was in a little bit poor shape so I did have her face restored. This one, there was nothing wrong until just recently--one of her foot broke off but I do have the foot with me."
Mark L. Walberg, Antiques Roadshow host (and apparent heartthrob).
From his deep tan and artfully coordinated shirt-tie combination (not to mention the throngs of hovering onlookers), it was clear that host Mark Walberg was the biggest celebrity in the room. A Google search for "Mark Walberg Antiques Roadshow" yields "Mark Walberg Antiques Roadshow shirtless" as the second result, which would seem to confirm his status as the Channing Tatum (or Mark Wahlberg?) of public television.
He lit up when speaking about his time spent in local landmarks -- describing the Apollo Theater as "sick." Of his hosting duties, he noted, "My time is spent with the people--who are all quirky, I won't call them weird. While the appraisers are [working with] the collection of objects, my collections are the people." His hair is flawless.
More photos are on the next page.
Ida. Location: New Jersey Antique: Signed first edition Andy Warhol book
A decades-long Warhol aficionado, Ida found this signed first edition Warhol book in her basement with an assortment of other used books. Ida's first Warhol collectible, an illustrated and signed paper bag that the artist made personally for her at a late '60s Brooklyn Happening, fell victim to her mother's overzealous cleaning. Astonishingly, a chance second meeting in a jewelry store fifteen years later yielded a replacement, which Ida has framed (it was too big to transport to Javits). Regardless of its value, the book will ultimately be displayed alongside her other personalized piece.
Furniture appraiser and AR favorite, Leigh Keno (twin brother Leslie Keno was also there).
The star power of the Kenos is such that they scored their own 2011 Fox reality show, Buried Treasure, which was not renewed (possibly due to the slightly grim undertone -- the families seeking appraisals were all hoping to cash in on their heirlooms to cover costs for crises like foreclosure and cancer treatment).
Jeff. Location: Manhattan Antique: Pair of midcentury clown figurines Anticipated value: unknown Appraised value: $250 for the pair
"These are my boyfriend's, given to him by his grandmother. I've actually never looked at them outside of the plastic -- I was always too afraid to take them out but they're cute!" Jeff was given a highly specific caveat to his appraisal -- that they'd fetch $250 at an eclectic store in Miami. Buena suerte, Jeff.
Decorative arts appraiser Karen Keane evaluating a set of midcentury clown figurines
Alexa and Michele. Location: Staten Island Antique: Giant Pepsi bottle cap Anticipated value: unknown Appraised value: $450
Michele may have unintentionally swiped her giant Pepsi cap while working downtown in the '80s, snagging it from a pile of what she assumed was garbage. Of the possible set appropriation, she said: "Later I found out that it was part of a film set and they had all their props there. But no one was around and I had just walked away with it!" The moral of the story: Definitely always pick up interesting garbage in New York.
Bridget. Location: Burlington, Vermont Antique: Midcentury risqué nun painting Anticipated value: unknown (paid $10)
"I got her at a church sale to benefit the United Church of Underhill. Even if I find out she's worth a fortune, I'm gonna hang her right back up above the kitchen table." Bridget is lucky that this wasn't immediately pried from her hands by our photographer.
More photos are on the next page.
Lisa. Location: Manhattan Antique: El Morroco's Family Album
Lisa purchased El Morroco's Family Album a decade ago while working on the luxury condominium that was constructed on the footprint of the legendary nightclub space. Created as a sort of insider's yearbook for El Morroco regulars, the album was only available to preferred patrons -- the coolest celebrities of the club's glory days. The hundreds of photos inside its surprisingly contemporary cover make the Rich Kids of Instagram look like Midwestern mall rats.
Grace. Location: Connecticut Antique: Fish and lotus pottery piece Grace, a realtor, found her fish bowl while cleaning out the home of a client. The vessel was first given to a colleague who was less than taken with the fish-meets-flora motif and gladly parted with the piece for just $25.
Steve. Location: Brooklyn Antique: 1816 miniature bible
Steve's grandfather brought this diminutive bible back from World War II and was having it appraised for the first time today. At what looked to be about 6' 7", Steve and his wee Bible were somewhat mismatched.
Emmett. Location: Portland, Maine Antique: Vintage Batman figurine
An avid Batman fan and collector, Emmett has scoured the internet in vain for information about this particular piece, which he was immediately drawn to when he passed it "lurking creepily in the storefront." Emmett expressed clear disdain for the shorter blunted bat ears and generally mellower vibes of later Batman iterations, which he claims were designed to cater to a younger (and clearly lamer) audience.
Kathleen Guzman, collectibles appraiser, posing with a piece from the Red Grooms collection.
Jon and Norene. Location: The Bronx Antique: "Begging for soup" lamp Anticipated value: Unknown, paid $500 (down from $1500) Appraised value: $500 to $800
Jon, a Bronx construction worker, fell in love with this lamp walking by it every day on a project. His wife, Norene, clearly doesn't share his ardor for the figural lamp -- as Jon put it, "I don't want to tell you what she called it when I brought it home." However, she was quick to point out its potential utility as a weapon.
Lynn. Location: Yonkers, New York
This former FIT student scored her paper dress from a boyfriend whose brother-in-law, a theater owner, received it as a promotional item for universal studios. As to whether she wore the eco-friendly mini, she said "In 1968, it was way too long. Luckily I never took a scissor to it." The dress now lives inside a Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat in Lynn's closet (it sounds like her wardrobe is well worth raiding).
More photos are on the next page.
The feedback booth. The line here was as long as that of any appraisal line.
Glen and Valerie. Location: Glen Cove, Long Island Antique: 1910 model ship Anticipated value: unknown Appraised value: $2,000
"My uncle perished at sea on this boat."
It only took Glen and Valerie 45 minutes to drive to the Javits Center but (for fear of breaking the glass) they spent another 30 painstakingly pushing this ship across the room. Made in 1910 by Glen's grandfather, the ship is a replica of The Njord, which circumnavigated the globe twice in a row and on which his uncle perished at sea.
Kathy. Location: Ridgefield, New Jersey Antique: Bakelite bracelet (part of larger collection) Anticipated value: unknown Appraised value: $500-$700
Kathy amassed much of her impressive bakelite collection from a specific seller at the 26th street flea market who would set aside special pieces just for her. She's never worn the bracelet, for which she received the highest valuation, but resolved to start today (and promptly clamped the bracelet on her wrist). Of the other pieces, she said "I was wearing the pin until my kids said they wouldn't be seen with me." Kathy, your kids are wrong.
Roberta. Location: New York and Florida Antique: 1983 Maria Finkel paper sculpture Anticipated value: Unknown, paid $250
"It was the face of [the artist's] mother with some kind of Semitic headdress. We are now slowly but surely disposing of some of the things in the [Vermont] ski house and my children don't like it."
Margot (on left) and Claudette (paintings are Margot's). Location: Bed Stuy, Brooklyn Antique: Pair of midcentury portraits Anticipated value: Unknown. Appraised value: $3,000 to $5,000
"As an antique shop owner, I buy tons of stuff all the time but never for me," says Margot. "I'm not likely to hang Caucasian people in my home so I was excited to find African American figurative people. It has a European sensibility -- I'm also European and that's why I was drawn to it because it's kind of got both in one painting."
Ben. Location: Brooklyn Anticipated value: no idea, purchased for $200
Ben and his life-size wooden soldier were on their way out the door following a somewhat fruitless visit (the appraiser was unable to assign a dollar value). Says Ben of his two-dimensional buddy, who was a fixture in his childhood bedroom, "he just kind of stood in this sentinel position by the wall quietly." Ben has not ruled out the possibility of traumatizing entertaining future children with his flat companion.
More photos are on the next page.
Arms and militaria appraiser Paul Carella handles an elaborate sword
Tribal arts appraiser Linda Dyer.
Furniture appraiser Ken Farmer.
Asian arts appraiser (and Roadshow favorite) Lark Mason.
Photographs and prints appraiser Donald Cresswell.
A small segment of the infinite jewelry appraisal line.
Jewelry appraiser Virginia Salem.
Jewelry appraisers Virginia Salem and Gloria Lieberman.
Jewelry appraiser Peter Shemonsky.
Prints and posters appraiser Nicholas Lowry.
Jewelry appraiser Kevin Zavian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter