Treasures in hand, people from waited for answers — and possible antique stardom.
Competition to get into the Sarasota taping of the hit PBS television show “Antiques Roadshow” was fierce.
The show received 15,772 ticket applications for 3,500 spots. Those selected got two tickets — one for themselves and one for a guest — and the ability to each bring two objects to be appraised.
“Antiques Roadshow,” produced for PBS by WGBH Boston, did a full day of taping on April 12 at Ca’ d’Zan, the Sarasota mansion built during the Roaring Twenties by circus tycoon John Ringling, on the grounds of The Ringling museum.
The taping will allow “Antiques Roadshow” to create three episodes for the show’s 23rd season. The new season will air starting in January 2019. In the fall, the show expects to release specific airdates for episodes. The stop in Sarasota kicked off production for the season, but the Sarasota episodes won’t necessarily be the first episodes to air.
“Antiques Roadshow” Executive Producer Marsha Bemko said Ca’ d’Zan was recommended by some appraisers as a good venue for the show to visit. The Sarasota episodes will include history of the house along with segments of appraisers talking to people about the history and value of their items.
The other stops on this season’s “Antiques Roadshow” tour — Tulsa, Okla., Louisville, Ky., Rochester, Mich., and San Diego — will also be shot at historic venues. “We could have kept doing convention centers,” Bemko said. But the historic sites were a way to improve the show, something she says “Antiques Roadshow” aims to do each season.
The Sarasota episodes were shot both inside and outside the historic mansion. Tents set up on the property surrounding the house gave the atmosphere a fair-like feel, Bemko says.
Along with show staff and crew, 110 volunteers helped with crowd management and flow. The dozens of appraisers who traveled to Sarasota are also volunteers, with “Antiques Roadshow” giving them a chance to earn publicity and build respect in the industry. Bemko calls the appraisers “object geeks” and says some hope to find certain objects within their expertise area at each tour stop.
Bruce Crissy, owner of Crissy Galleries and the Art and Antique Center in Sarasota, said he thought “Antiques Roadshow” appraisers would come across a wide variety of items. “Because of it being a retirement community, people bring with them their best things to live with,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone showed up with a better Gibson guitar or an 18th century violin.”
Prior to the taping, Crissy said people stopped by his store with baskets of items they were considering bringing to “Antiques Roadshow.” They wanted to get his opinion on what would be best to take. Crissy said he guided them toward the items with an interesting backstory.
“Antiques Roadshow” appraiser Nicholas Lowry, who specializes in prints and posters, said he’d seen several interesting items during the Sarasota taping. He was particularly excited to see a classroom learning aid from the 1800s and a 1920s airline poster advertising flights from Key West, Fla., to Havana.
When an appraiser like Lowry finds an intriguing item, he won’t tell the guest its value. Instead he’ll pitch it to one of the show’s producers as a possible item to shoot. Then, when the segment is taped, the appraiser reveals the value of the item to the owner to get a genuine reaction.
Douglass, a Sarasota resident, got two tickets to “Antiques Roadshow” and brought her friend, Marsha, also a Sarasota resident, with her. (The show has a policy that only allows media to publish the first name of guests for security reasons.)
Douglass came with a clock and ring, and Marsha brought an Emmett Kelly doll that belonged to her husband growing up. Kelly, the late circus performer famous for his “Weary Willie” character, called the circus town of Sarasota home before his death in 1979.
Bemko, who on Thursday hadn’t seen footage of all the Sarasota items yet, said, “I’m on my knees hoping and praying for circus memorabilia.”
Marsha said the appraiser told her the Kelly doll was worth about $60 to $100 — and to stop storing it in a shoebox. A clean cotton pillowcase would be better.
Cathie Carol and Michael, both of Sarasota, brought two mannequins for appraisal. They bought them from a woman in Fort Myers who told them she thought they’d been used in a Maas Brothers department store, like the one that opened in downtown Sarasota in the 1950s. Joan and Burt, as the mannequins are known, were valued at $400 to $500.
“I don’t know if we’ll make the cut, but it sure was fun. It could not have been a better experience for me. My mom is still riding on a high.” — Marsha, a Sarasota resident who brought a French carriage clock to the Sarasota "Antiques Roadshow" taping
Another Marsha at the “Antiques Roadshow” taping, also a Sarasota resident, came with her mother and brought a French carriage clock in a leather carrying case. It previously belonged to her mother’s uncle in North Carolina. Marsha and appraiser Sean Delaney shot a segment with Marsha and the clock that could air during one of the Sarasota episodes. He told her the clock’s value at auction could reach $1,800. “I don’t know if we’ll make the cut, but it sure was fun,” Marsha said. “It could not have been a better experience for me. My mom is still riding on a high.”
Bemko said one of the items she was most intrigued by was a silver Kiddush cup made in 1654. She said the man who brought the cup had escaped Germany with his family in 1938 or 1939, taking the cup with them. It received an auction estimate of $2,500 to $3,500, but Bemko said it was the man’s story that gave her chills. “It represented a family’s survival more than just an object’s survival.”
By April 16, Bemko will have watched all the footage from Sarasota. The next day, she’ll decide what items to include. “I just want to find stories,” Bemko said. “I’m a story collector.”