Road Show

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Antiques Roadshow 2004

Click Image for 2004 Schedule
Discovering America's Hidden Treasures.
Antiques Roadshow is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston.   Major funding is provided by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.   Additional funding is provided by First Union.  Funding also provided by public television viewers.  Visit Antiques Roadshow online. Or go to:
For articles at WGBH about Leila Dunbar

Behind the Scenes of the Antiques Roadshow - Leila Dunbar, Participating Toys & Collectibles Appraiser.

(Notes written by Leila Dunbar)

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Leila Dunbar

Since it's inception three years ago, I've been lucky enough to be one of the hundreds of participating appraisers on PBS's most popular show, the Antiques Roadshow.  This has been one of the best (most exhausting) experiences of my life.  I've been able to appraise items as diverse as mechanical pencils, cast iron toy taxis and a Santa Roly Dolly, just a fraction of the 100 appraisals any one of us 70 appraisers will perform an "average" (there is no such thing) Saturday.
A typical Roadshow Day
Here's what happens:

There are 7000 visitors to the Roadshow, who bring between one and two (and more when they can sneak them in, those jars of marbles are killers!) items to appraise, for a total of 10,000 -12,000 items brought in and appraised during the day.

There are 70 appraisers, 50 television spots to fill and one producer, Aida Moreno (on roller skates, I swear) who okays the items that make it to television.  That means that only something like .05% (it's probably not exact, I was a journalism major, not math) of the items make it to TV.

How Items are chosen:

Each appraiser has to decide if an item is worthy of television.  Once we decide that the item is a good candidate, we put our name on a list and, in order, Aida will come around our table.  We pitch the item to Aida and if she likes it, she will ask the people who brought the item if they'd like it appraised on the air.  If they say yes, they are whisked away to the green room and we await when we're called to makeup.  We then do the appraisal, live and unrehearsed.   What you see is what you get - it's all happening at the moment.

What do we appraisers want?  An unusual item, a neat (and true) story behind it.  If you have an item that you have not seen on the Roadshow and it has an interesting history, there's a good chance that it's Roadshow material.

Here's an example:                                 toparrow.gif (319 bytes)

In Portland, a very nice lady named Esmerelda came in with a mechanical pencil collection.  Her grandfather ran a potato business in Idaho (where else?) in the 1920's.  Every time someone cam in, he'd ask them for a mechanical pencil, amassing over 125 examples by the time he died.  Since Esmerelda never knew her grandfather, she asked for the pencils so she could have something to remember him by.   She then sewed them into fan formations and placed them into presentation boxes.

The pencils themselves are only worth between $5.00 and $75.00 each, but altogether the collection is valued at between $2000.00 and $2500.00 and will appreciate as that market becomes discovered.  But it was the story and looking at a mechanical pencil with a floating spud in it that gave this segment character.   And, that's what we as viewers remember, and why the show is so popular.

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Last modified: March 2005