In March of this year I found out that the Antiques Road Show was coming to Myrtle Beach South Carolina in June. I love the show, so I excitedly went online, submitted my name to the ticket raffle, and crossed my fingers. A couple months later I found out I’d won tickets! I couldn’t believe it, over 100,000 people applied for tickets and only 6,000 tickets were distributed. I never win anything, so I was really excited.
On the day of the event John and I got to the convention center at 11:30. We would have gotten there earlier but our ticket said our admission time was 12:00 and we couldn’t arrive more than half an hour early. Upon arriving John and I couldn’t help but notice the attire of our fellow attendees. Many people wore t-shirts, or badly fitting shorts or pants, some people hadn’t even bothered to brush their hair. Come on! There’s a chance that you may appear on t.v. and you roll out of bed and don’t bother to dress yourself properly? Grown men, over fifty years old, dressing like kids at a playground. Nice. John and I, on the other hand, were among the few people who chose to represent South Carolina in proper clothing. John wore khakis and a button down, while I wore a green cap sleeve dress. Self respect people!
We showed our tickets to a convention center staff-member and we were guided to a large room. We stood in a long line before being admitted in to a second, equally large, room where the actual appraisals would take place. The man at the entrance to the second room gave us tickets to have our items appraised. We got a “silver” ticket for our silver eggcups, a “decorative arts” ticket for our wooden eggcups, an “art” ticket for our paintings, and a “jewelry” ticket for a ring my grandfather gave me. At the center of the room, a large circular area was cordoned off by tall dividers. The dividers served to create a makeshift room within which the appraisals were held. With our tickets in hand we went and stood in the “jewelry” line because it was the shortest. Half an hour later we had made it to the front of the line and could see in to the appraisal area. They were recording in the center of the partitioned area, and all the various appraisers were seated at tables that formed a large circle around the filming area. John recognized a weapons expert who is on the show quite a bit, and we saw Mark Walberg wandering around talking to people in the background. The whole room was crowded with people and cameras and so many people were talking at the same time that it seemed like the room was buzzing. It was a very high energy atmosphere.
After we stared into the appraisal area for a while, a volunteer punched our ticket and escorted us to one of the jewelry appraisers. A nice red hair woman appraised my ring at $700-$900 which isn’t that good because my grandfather paid €800. As we were about to walk away she asked where we were going next and we told her “silver.” She said silver was a long line and her friend, the guy next to her, was a silver appraiser and he would do the appraisal real quick. John and I said thank you but we’d just get in line like everyone else, however she insisted so we handed her the eggcups. The silver appraiser glanced at one of the eggcups (we had several), frowned slightly, shrugged and said “they’re silver plate, not really worth anything, I hope you use them.” Then he turned away. Abashed, John and I mumbled thank you, left the table and got in the “decorative arts” line. It took about five minutes for me to come out of my daze and say “wait! he didn’t even give us a number!” We considered getting in the silver line and asking for clarification, but the line was very long and he had knocked the wind out of my sail. I wasn’t upset because the eggcups weren’t valuable, it was his attitude and the fact he didn’t even bother to give me a number. That smug British appraiser’s dismissive “not really worth anything” really killed my enthusiasm and excitement to be there. It took a lot for John to bring my spirits up, but I can honestly say that I am no longer particularly interested in the show thanks to that man.
The decorative arts lady was very bubbly and smiley as she looked over our wooden eggcups. She asked me what they were and how I got them. I told her they were eggcups that my grandmother got for me from a charity shop in London. Then she asked the key question “have you ever put eggs in them?” Now was my time to shine! “No” I replied “Normal eggs are too big to fit in them, I think they are for quail eggs.” She smiled as she rolled one of the eggcups in her hand. “They don’t fit eggs, because they aren’t eggcups. I believe they are dust collectors from India made for tourists in the 1980s.” John and I started smiling as she continued and said “are they worth $10? Mmmm… maybe?” By that point we were all laughing. Half of my eggcup collection consisted of things that weren’t eggcups! They are still pretty and I have them displayed as if they are the real deal, but now I have a funny story to go along with them.
I think the silver appraiser could benefit from observing the decorative arts appraiser. They both told me my items had no value, and she went a step further and said they weren’t even what I thought they were. But what a difference it made to have that news conveyed to me in a kind and humorous manner! It just goes to show, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. That silver appraiser’s lack of tact and consideration really marred an otherwise enjoyable experience.
The last items we had for appraisal were the paintings. That particular line was really long. We stood in line in front of a nice woman, Mrs. X, who was having a painting an older relative had given her appraised. We chatted for a while and she suddenly pointed out a man holding two large signs that had “Jenny” painted on them. “I bet those are from Forrest Gump” she said. I was dubious, but willing to be disproved so I walked over and asked the man. She was right! They came off the shrimp boat, named the “Jenny”, used in the movie. The man was a miniature ship builder and was asked to do a miniature of the boat after the movie. The owner of the boat gave him the name-plates off the boat as thanks. Pretty cool!
Eventually John and I had our paintings appraised for $250 each. The appraiser said that they were very discolored from tobacco smoke, which makes sense because my grandfather smoked heavily for many years. She said that if we had them restored the colors would be completely different. However, since she said restoration would cost around $500, we won’t be getting it done any time soon!
John and I left the Antiques Road Show a little tired and chuckling over the discovery that our treasured items were not particularly valuable. I’m still debating whether the anticipation was better than the actual event, but it was a good experience overall, despite the best efforts of that silver appraiser…
Best life tip: If you get tickets to the Antique Road Show take a rolling cart, wear comfortable shoes, be prepared for long lines, and if you take silver to be appraised, have a stiff upper lip 😉