Based on the popular BBC series running since 1979, the PBS Antiques Roadshow combines history with discovery. Each year, the show visits a handful of cities to appraise items brought in by viewers. Are these items worth a lot of money, more than the visitors expect? To be fair, this concept has been copied again since, with East Tennessee Public Television's Treasures In Your Attic, but WGBH/Boston, always the pioneer PBS station, will say their derivative came first.
In ANTIQUES ROADSHOW's 2005 season opener from St. Paul, Minnesota — the land of 10,000 lakes — former host Lara Spencer and appraisers were awash in a sea of antiques and collectibles.
Appraised in St. Paul (Part 2): a 1950 Minneapolis Millers jersey worn by Willie Mays; photographs of Marilyn Monroe and by Margaret Bourke-White; and a map of the Civil War's Battle of Lookout Mountain, drawn by the great-grandfather of the owner's husband. Also: appraisers have bad news for the owners of Chinese bronzes and signatures of U.S. Founding Fathers that were cut off from documents, and very good news for the owner of a large stoneware jug with the date 1876 on it.
Conclusion. Items appraised in St. Paul include an 1850 scrimshaw whale's tooth; an 1896 prints portfolio by outdoors artist A.B. Frost; a five-foot-long model railroad engine; and a chair that the current owner had bought that morning for $2. Appraiser Leigh Keno tells him it's a 1770 Chippendale. Also: host Lara Spencer goes fishing on one of Minnesota's 11,842 lakes with appraiser Ken Farmer and admires Farmer's collection of antique lures. "So alluring," Spencer coos.
Host Lara Spencer admires antique farm machinery in the first of three shows in Omaha. Items appraised include a chair made of elk antlers; and Frank Lloyd Wright architectural drawings (one of which was for a design the owner's great-grandmother rejected). Also: an Edward Curtis Native-American photo, an 18th-century Chinese bowl and a painting by Harlem Renaissance artist Palmer Hayden.
Appraised in Omaha (Part 2): posters for the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Levis jeans and Omaha's 1898 Trans Mississippi and International Exposition; a World War II Flying Tigers flag; a 1967 Campbell's Soup paper dress; a collection of the 1960s alternative newspaper The Realist; a 1910 Eskimo doll; an 1890s Mennonite cabinet; and a 1930s cast-iron toy race car. Also: host Lara Spencer and appraiser Rudy Franchi examine "railroad ephemera" at Omaha's restored Union Station.
Conclusion. Appraised in Omaha: a daguerrotype of Edgar Allan Poe, an 18th-century Chippendale writing desk and a pressed-glass punch bowl shaped like a swan. Also: paintings by Nebraska artists, a 1769 Quaker purse, Spanish-American War memorabilia and an 1870 inlaid table that's "as perfect...as anyone could have made," says appraiser Brian Witherell. Also: appraiser Richard Wright shows host Lara Spencer various "corn collectibles" (some of them made of corn).
Appraised in Memphis (Part 1 of three): drawings by Shirley Temple, 1919 "Black Sox" memorabilia, a Confederate Army belt buckle and an 1820s lighthouse clock that its owner (who paid $8 for it) calls "Mr. Ugly." Then she hears it would bring a pretty penny at auction. Also: host Lara Spencer admires the ducks in the lobby fountain at Memphis's Peabody Hotel, then visits nearby Shelby Farms.
Part 2 of 3. Memphis items include a mid-19th-century Tennessee honey pot that appraiser Dean Falley calls "a honey of a pot"; a gold watch that was given to its owner's great-great grandfather in 1898 for breaking up a train robbery; an 18th-century English sideboard; 1939 World's Fair memorabilia; and a 7000-page dictionary. In a musical interlude, appraiser Ken Farmer leads colleagues in a jug-band version of the "Antiques Roadshow" theme song.
Conclusion. Appraised in Memphis: a Grandma Moses painting, a suitably sequined Elvis Presley outfit, late-18th-century Chinese jade and porcelain, Mardi Gras parade prints that appeared in a New Orleans newspaper in 1917, an 1810 gilded Darby porcelain vase, a late-19th-century disc music automaton and a Steiff Teddy bear (named "Ted"). Also: host Lara Spencer visits the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis to see how metal objects are restored.
Part 1 of three. Appraised in Reno: a 1927 model of a Lake Tahoe ferry; a 1910 Edison phonograph; 1830s Japanese woodblock prints; an F.Scott Fitzgerald inscription; and a 1930s toy motorcycle owned by a younger-than-usual collector. When appraiser Andy Ourant tells him its worth and asks what he'll do with the money, the boy says, "Play with it carefully." In addition to the appraisals, host Lara Spencer tours Virginia City, "a real live ghost town."
Part 2 in Reno. Appraisals include an 1854 sterling English tea set; an early-20th-century leaded-glass lampshade; and a German model train with an actual steam engine and coach doors that open and close. Also: appraisers Rudy Franchi and Ken Farmer on firefighting collectibles.
Appraised in Reno (Conclusion): a diamond-studded Cartier cigarette case; an 1856 German book of herb prints; and a movie-production saddle John Wayne gave to a friend. Also: host Lara Spencer and appraiser Brad Witherell check out the antique slot machines at Reno's Liberty Belle Saloon..
Items appraised in Portland, Ore. (Part 1 of three) include items carried by settlers who traversed the Oregon Trail in 1852; radio logs of official accounts of the Pearl Harbor attack; a portrait miniature of Samuel Osgood, the first U.S. postmaster general, owned by an Osgood descendent; and a Native American portrait by J.H. Sharp, the founder of New Mexico's Taos Art Colony. Also: a segment on Native American artifacts at the Portland Art Museum that have feathers from endangered birds.
Part 2 of three. Appraised in Portland, Ore.: Edgar Bergen dummy models; an 1860 Kentucky rifle (made in Pennsylvania); a portrait of the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont (circa 1825), owned by his great-great-great-great granddaughter; a "Saturday Night Live" album autographed by the original cast; a German artist's 1860s Alpine sketchbook; a 1915 Japanese altar set; and a 4-year-old girl's shoe from 1928 that was autographed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Conclusion. Appraised in Portland, Ore.: a map from the Lewis and Clark report of 1814; an art-nouveau dog-show trophy from 1904; a large Hawaiian wooden bowl that could have belonged to the islands' royalty. Lara Spencer hosts.