Excitement Builds at Antiques Roadshow

by Sister Priscilla Wood, OP

On a beautiful day at Living History Farms outside of Des Moines, IA, I waited in line with my art-junky friend and companion, Dan Soat, to experience Antiques Roadshow live! We were two of 3,250 people who had tickets to this one-day event on June 10, which I won on a PBS lottery. The Antiques Roadshow event is highly organized, efficient, and enjoyable! Our tickets were for a 2 p.m. entrance, so we got in the line around 1:40 p.m., and we visited with people as we moved forward continually.

At the main entrance, a QR code on the ticket was scanned, we got a wrist band, and then entered the next set of lines to get to TRIAGE—a row of tables under big, white tents—where one of the appraisers looked at our items and then told us which tents to visit for each item we brought.

Our first stop was Folk Art to show our weather vane from the old shower house for the Sinsinawa Academy girls—it was valued at $250 to $350. Then, we moved on to Collectibles. We had two items to show—first, a set of “magic lantern slides” from the late 19th century from the Academy in Benton. One set was astronomical, the other was illustrations for fairy/folk tales (we only brought three of the 12 of each kind). The appraiser estimated they were from the 1870s. The value for each full set was around $1,000. The most valuable item we took had no connection to us; it was given to one of our Sisters who turned it in to the Arts and Cultural Heritage Office many years ago saying, “This might be valuable someday!” Our framed, Disney-certified animation cel from a 1937 Donald Duck cartoon was estimated at $3,500!

We then stopped at Drawings & Paintings. I was disappointed with the appraisal of our John Fery painting because Fery is quite well known. The appraiser said he considered it more of an “sketch/unfinished painting” and valued it around $500. Finally, we ended at Rugs & Textiles and because there wasn’t a line, we were able show photographs of our 10’ x 14’ Persian rug that hung in our “Telling Our Story” heritage exhibit at Sinsinawa. The rug was valued at $2,000.

Our last stop was the famous “Feedback Booth” where those with items get two minutes on camera to show off something they brought either because it turned out to be nothing—or something—and to say “thank you” to Antiques Roadshow. That line was fun! We talked with lots of people from across the United States—Arizona, Kansas, and even East Dubuque, IL!

We left Dubuque at 9:30 a.m. and returned at 9:30 p.m.—a full day having a great experience! It was fun and felt so familiar—I knew exactly how it would work, and seeing faces of appraisers I’ve seen for years on the show just seemed normal!