The PBS Antiques Roadshow Part 3: In Front of the Cameras

If you missed Parts 1 & 2 and want to read them before continuing, click on the link below this post.

All in Good Time, My Pretty (The Watch Appraisals):

After the jewelry appraisals, I left the curtained area to search for my friend Linda. She was waiting by the nearest exit and shared the results of the watch appraisals by Paul Winicki, Founder of Radcliffe Jewelers. [TIP: Before you separate from your companion(s), pick a place to meet up.]

Paul Winicki ©2014

Remember the Disney Cinderella watch (below left) mentioned in Part 1? It was considered a collectable rather than an antique and eliminated from the appraisals. Linda noted how to open the other 2 watches, the makers, materials, restoration costs, and values.

Watch collection ©2014 Jillian Lark (

Watch collection ©2014 Jillian Lark

The copper-colored metal lapel watch (above middle) belonged to my late paternal aunt. After sliding open the watch using a penknife, Paul examined the broken workings inside. Restoring the Swiss watch made by Seneca would cost more than its value.

My father gave me the open face pocket watch (above right). The white enamel paint was already chipped and the dial broken. Until Paul showed Linda, I had no idea that a simple twist or spin of the back cover would open the watch and reveal the inner movements.

Pocket watch (back cover removed / movements exposed) ©2014 Jillian Lark (

1900’s pocket watch (back cover removed / movements exposed) ©2014 Jillian Lark

The gold-filled railroad pocket watch by the Havlin Watch Company had a 21 jeweled movement and a standard engraved design common in the early 1900’s. The watch was valued a bit less than the cost to restore its damaged parts.

After the watch appraisals, Linda heard excited voices and saw frantic motioning toward the blue-carpeted area. Two people had brought valuable antique watches and jewelry, and the TV crew prepared the set for filming. Volunteers directed Linda toward the exit, so she left.

Tap the Camera Button Three Times and Think There’s No Place Like the PBS Antiques Roadshow:

Due to the well-organized process, our actual visit only took about 80 minutes. (TIPS: Arrive at least 45 minutes before your assigned time to deal with parking, etc. The wait time depends on how crowded your category lines are and whether you’re scheduled for early morning or later in the day. Plan on a minimum of 1.5 hours or longer, especially if you want to grab freebies from the sponsors, etc.)

Cover of my PBS Antiques Roadshow event guide ©2014 Jillian Lark (

Cover of my PBS Antiques Roadshow event guide ©2014 Jillian Lark

Linda and I had a great time, but neither of us wanted to participate in the Feedback Booth. Our friend Carolyn and her husband Jim were interviewed on camera. Carolyn accidentally attributed the wrong time period to the sword they brought. She didn’t know if her part would be cut or when the Austin episodes would air, but she and Jim took at least 3 great selfies on their cell phones.

Linda and I returned home about 2 hours after we departed without encountering flying monkeys, wizards, hot air balloons, and squished or melted witches. Thanks, PBS Antiques Roadshow!


The PBS Antiques Roadshow Part 2: Behind the Curtain

Last week I posted The Antiques Roadshow Part 1: We’re Off to See the Appraisers! . . . Please click here if you wish to read or reread it before proceeding to Part 2.

Pay Attention to That Crowd Behind the Curtain:

As the volunteer escorted my group of 10 people through the curtain opening, I saw rectangular folding tables in a wide octagon shaped arrangement and a central blue carpeted area with a table, 2 chairs, and a large camera for filming. Huge signs matching the category tickets (jewelry, watches, etc.) hung on the curtains behind the tables. Several appraisers sat at each table with their backs to the curtains and their name cards along the front edge of their section.

While I waited for my turn with a jewelry appraiser, I noticed that no one was being filmed, my friend Linda wasn’t at the watch table, and that most of the appraisals were much faster than the televised ones. (TIPS: Since time and table space are limited, make sure you have your tickets, items, pen, paper, research information, and questions organized and ready for the appraisers.)

The Wonderful Appraiser of AR*:
(*Antiques Roadshow)

The lovely Victoria Bratberg, the Director of Skinner’s Fine Jewelry Department, appraised my 2 collections in a friendly, efficient manner and complimented the pieces. (TIPS: Relax, smile, introduce yourself, and write down the name of your appraisers. You can look them up in the free event guide later.)

Victoria Bratberg ©2014

The Jewelry Appraisals (Alas, No Rubies or Ruby Slippers):

The bracelet collection pictured above spanned a 20-year period of different styles, so I wanted information about the materials and values. My father gave bracelet 1 (left) to my mother after their elopement. Since it was paste 1940’s costume jewelry and didn’t contain any precious metals or gems, Victoria recommended I have the loose ruby-like stones re-glued in the bracelet and enjoy wearing it. The 1960’s hand-carved wooden bracelet 2 (top center) purchased in Austin, Texas was covered with clear shellac to protect the design. Bracelet 3 had an intricate 1950’s Mexican silver inlay from Juarez, but it didn’t have a famous maker’s mark. So far none of the bracelets had much value.

My parents purchased the 1953 Queen Elizabeth II coronation charm bracelet (far right) at royal warranted jewelers Bentley & Skinner in London.  The original sterling silver charm bracelet included 2 miniature books with photos of the Royal Family and London Views, 1 rhinestone embedded coronation chair, 2 coronation crowns (1 plain and 1 enameled), 1 enameled bobby (policeman), and 1 enameled guard. The other charms (2 German shields showing the Rhine River and Neuschwanstein Castle, 1 Dutch windmill, 1 Belgium globe, and 1 map of Ireland) were added during a summer trip to Europe. The bracelet’s appraised value was less than what it’s worth to me.

Victorian jewelry ©2014 Jillian Lark

The mid to late 19th century jewelry (above) belonged to my paternal great-grandparents and lacked makers’ marks. The loop and dangly earrings (bottom row) were made of base metals and had little monetary value. Victoria performed an extra test on my great-grandfather’s tie tack (top right). Unfortunately it wasn’t worth much either, because it contained multi-faceted glass and base metals. The wedding band (top left) was engraved with my paternal great-grandparents’ initials and the year of their marriage. After Victoria tested and weighed the ring, she confirmed it was made of 18-carat gold and assessed its current market price. Again the collection’s value was less than it’s worth to me. (TIPS: Before you leave the table, be certain you have all your items and materials and thank the appraiser, too. The next person in line will move up, and you won’t be allowed to return.)

After the jewelry appraisals, . . . TO BE CONTINUED.

Jillian’s Note: Please return for The PBS Antiques Roadshow Part 3: In Front of the Cameras on Sept. 22nd or click here to follow this blog.


The PBS Antiques Roadshow Part 1: We’re Off to See the Appraisers! . . .

No Tornadoes, Just Tickets and Preparation:

Last Spring I entered the online ticket lottery and won 2 admission tickets, which I received in the mail a month before the weekend event. My friend Linda wanted to come and offered to get appraisals on some of my family treasures. I photographed and researched the heirlooms before selecting what I wanted to take. (TIP: If you have heavy or breakable items, wrap and bring them in wheeled luggage or carts.)

PBS Antique Roadshow admission ticket photo @2014 Jillian Lark

Antiques Roadshow admission ticket ©2014 Jillian Lark

Each person could bring 2 items or collections. I printed out the history and questions for 11 objects in case the appraisers determined some of them were collections. I also prioritized which 2 items each of us should have appraised if none of the objects were considered collections. We discussed the details on the way to the local convention center. (TIPS: Review the advice and Q&A sections on the PBS Antiques Roadshow site . The appraisers aren’t allowed to help you choose items, so have realistic expectations. Most family heirlooms have sentimental rather than monetary value. Research the objects and have a flexible individual item / collection strategy. Bring pens plus printed information and questions about the materials, makers, dates, restoration needs and costs, and original / current values of each item.)

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore (The Arrival and Appraisal Areas):

Even though Linda and I were there 30 minutes early, the volunteers admitted us without delay and gave us a free event guide with maps, appraiser lists, photos, etc. We stood near the front of the roped off 9:00 a.m. line, and a volunteer brought us the last folding chairs not used to support the ropes. By coincidence our friend Carolyn and her husband Jim got in line behind us, so we visited and shared information about our items. The line soon tripled in size. (TIPS: Wait times vary. You might want to attach lightweight, portable chairs to your wheeled luggage or cart.)

Follow the Volunteers, Not the Yellow Brick Road:

About fifteen minutes later, volunteers directed us toward 4 tables and instructed us to heed the warning signs. (TIPS: Even though the Antiques Roadshow website promotion encourages you to make and post photos and videos about your visit, you aren’t allowed to photograph or film except at the Feedback Booth after you leave the appraisal areas. You are also required to turn off and put away your cell phones and cameras.)

Antiques Roadshow collection and jewelry tickets ©2014 Jillian Lark

Antiques Roadshow collection and jewelry tickets ©2014 Jillian Lark

The Guardians of the Gate (Preliminary Appraisals)

At this point we briefly waited to show our items to an appraiser who classified the items and decided whether they were a collection or not. Luckily my appraiser agreed that the bracelets were a collection, and my grandparents’ jewelry was another collection. The appraiser attached 2 blue collection tickets to 2 orange tickets for the jewelry line and handed them to me. Linda’s appraiser eliminated the Disney watch (considered to be a collector’s item), so she gave Linda 2 individual watch item tickets.

Volunteers allowed us to enter the main appraisal area and ushered us to separate labeled lines. I could see Linda, but her line was shorter than mine. Soon she disappeared behind the curtained area. Since there were 20 people ahead of me, I talked to the ones next to me. We took turns saving places whenever someone wanted to take a nearby restroom or water break.

After 40 minutes, a volunteer counted off the next 10 people in line and led us behind the curtain. TO BE CONTINUED.

Jillian’s Note: Please return for The PBS Antiques Roadshow Part 2: Behind the Curtain on Sept. 15th or click here to follow this blog.




Happy Labor Day 2014!

Work by Ford Maddox Brown (1863)

Work by Ford Maddox Brown (1863)

Although Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States, International Workers’ Day or Labour Day is traditionally celebrated on the first Monday in May in most European countries. Whether you’re working today or not, I hope you have an enjoyable time.