Friday, July 31, 2015

TOP STORY >> Roadshow stops in Little Rock

Asian art appraiser Richard Cervantes of Philadelphia looks at a 16th century bowl brought in by Betty of Arkansas during taping of the “Antiques Roadshow” Saturday at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Around 5,000 people bought items to the show.


Leader staff writer

No one protested as our media guide led us to the front of long lines and through a sea of intriguing items around 5,000 people brought to “Antiques Roadshow” appraisers last Saturday at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

Everyone seemed happy to stand around in the cool room filled with tables, cameras, bright lights and television sets. After all, they were chosen from the 13,950 who sought tickets, all of which were free.

The Little Rock event gave the show’s producers three hours of television for the 20th season, set to air in January on AETN.

The appraisers expected to see 10,000 items last Saturday. They were filmed in about 90 multi-camera and over-the-shoulder segments.

The popular show had never been to Little Rock, but visited Hot Springs in 2002.

Nearly 100 volunteers also attended and were allowed to have two items appraised. They agreed to contribute 12 hours of unpaid labor for the perk.

The Leader’s Jeffrey Smith and I were told we could bring two items, as well, but I brought just one.

We were led to an area jokingly referred to as “triage.”

Once there, we were assigned to two of the 24 categories being appraised by more than 70 specialists. Two appraisers are Arkansas natives, our guide said, although they live elsewhere now.

A worker handed us paper bills resembling bookmarks that had the titles, “Silver” and “Sports” printed on them.

Our first stop was to the sports table, where Jeffrey presented a 1920s baseball glove and a signed 1932 baseball to appraiser Grant Zahajko.

The ball is worth between $2,500 and $3,500, he said.

It was signed by some of the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees. The most recognizable John Hancocks are by Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Jeffrey said his great-grandfather, who worked as a scoreboard operator in New Jersey back in the 1930s, had owned the family heirloom.

Zahajko explained that the item would have been more valuable were it in mint condition. Also, he noted, collectors are seeking baseballs with a single signature.

Jeffrey’s glove had belonged to his great uncle.

A collector would pay $45 to $70 for it, the appraiser said.

He told Jeffrey the 1920s-era split-fingered Rahling glove for a left-handed player would have been worth more had it been signed by a player. Zahajko also noted that it was made after teams switched from gloves with webbing to gloves with stitching.

On our way to the sports table, I had tucked a silver-coated egg poacher topped with a tiny eagle into my purse.

My boyfriend’s mother and grandmother have owned the piece for years.

Appraiser Sara Wishart said it was worth a whopping $25.

The egg poacher is English and was made in 1880, she explained, after electroplating was invented around 1840. The process covers base metals with a silver coating.

Wishart called the method fascinating. She said, “They take the base metal, I don’t know how they figured this out, and stick it in a vat with chemicals in it and shoot electricity through it.” Then the coating, the silver particles, binds to the base metals.

This new way of manufacturing silver items allowed everyone, not just the echelon of society, to buy them and also led the way to larger and more unique goods – elaborate artwork and more.

The egg poacher was not particularly unusual, Wishart said, because, “If you could dream it (then), they’d make it in silver plating.”

She noted how, every time it was cleaned, the silver rubbed off, lending the item a brass look.

She called it “charming,” but said that — even in excellent condition — the egg poacher would have been worth only $75.

I was delightfully amused that my boyfriend’s mother’s memories of polishing the piece gave it the most sentimental value but decreased its appraised value.

After our appraisals wrapped up, Jeffrey and I kept our eyes open for oddities and possible high-ticket knick-knacks others had brought.

We spotted a temperance jug with a snake wrapped around it, representing in an allegorical way that alcohol is evil.

A large African wooden chest with detailed carvings, a metal tribal sculpture and what appeared to be a clothes-drying rack tucked inside a wardrobe-like piece of furniture were other items that captured our attention.

We did not see the item that had, as of 5 p.m., the highest appraised value. Our guide said appraisal would probably continue until at least 7.

Executive producer Marsha Bemko revealed that it was a book of William Faulkner poems he handwrote in 1921 — 28 years before winning fame as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The book is worth about $70,000 to $100,000, she said.