Making a stop in Raleigh, 'Antiques Roadshow' still welcomes everyday people with good junk
It’s been a long time since one of the most popular programs on PBS, "Antiques Roadshow," visited North Carolina's Triangle.
Back in 2009, a woman from eastern North Carolina set an appraisal record back in 2009 with a collection of 18th century Chinese items made of jade.
“In this bowl here, because of the imperial inscription this would probably be very, very conservatively $400,000 to $600,000,” said appraiser, James Callahan.
When Callahan went on to say how the entire group was valued between $710,000 to more than one million dollars, the woman answered with one word, “Damn.”
Fast forward to May 16, 2023 — the Antiques Roadshow finally made its return to Raleigh.
The crew from the show and Boston’s WGBH made a stop in North Carolina's capital to record a few shows and maybe discover some hidden treasures. Thousands of people gathered on the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Jennifer and Brad Avakian drove all the way from North Palm Beach, Florida for the big day. They pulled around a red wagon full of family valuables – a table, a painting, a needlepoint collection from the 1800s and a doll. Jennifer Avakian remembers when she opened her email saying they were selected in the roadshow lottery.
“I lost my mind,” said Jennifer Avakian. “I have never wanted to do something so much, like, in my life. I am a super-fan of the Antiques Roadshow.”
Appraisers said their table was worth about $200 and so was the doll. The needlepoint collection from Brad Avakian’s great grandmother was the most valuable with one piece tagged between $600 and $800.
“We’re just happy to be here,” said Jennifer Avakian. “It’s like a ‘bucket list.’ Check!”
Marsha Bemko is Executive Producer of the Antiques Roadshow. She has run the show for 25 years. It's been on PBS for 27 seasons, first airing in 1997.
“One of a kind items, whatever category you’re in, have a better chance of having some value because they’re rare,” Bemko said. “Rarity is what brings good value.”
It takes at least five years before the Antiques Roadshow re-visits a city. Bemko says they like a venue where they can invite several thousand of their “best friends.”
The roadshow invites 70 appraisers from across the country to participate in its shows. And they distribute 2,000 pairs of tickets through a lottery. Bemko said close to 21,000 people signed up for the Raleigh lottery.
“Very often, very wealthy people know exactly what they own. That’s not who you’re watching on our show,” said Bemko. “We’re here to discover what you own, what I own. Everyday people.”
It is hard to describe a gigantic framed piece of art brought in to the roadshow by Jeremy King of Greenville, North Carolina. There are fancy chickens everywhere. King is a big University of South Carolina Gamecocks fan.
“It’s an oil painting,” said King. “It’s either a great big fake or it is 300 years old. One of the two.”
King likely wants it to be the latter; he paid $5,000 at an auction for those chickens.
I did not pay anything for the framed picture I put before appraiser Deborah Rogal with Swan Galleries, an auction house in New York City. It was a gift from friend, C.T. Woods-Powell. She purchased it at an estate sale at the Durham home of renowned African American historian John Hope Franklin who died in 2009.
“It was in the kitchen? Amazing,” said Rogal. “So not only is it the photograph, it is the original presentation.”
The photograph is of a young Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Harvard University scholar of African and African American history and host of the PBS show “Finding Your Roots.” Gates is holding Franklin’s book, “Race and History: Selected Essays.”
Rogal says she likes the provenance, the frame, the relationship between the two men.
“It’s almost a portrait of both of them in kind of a weird way,” said Rogal. I would estimate this at $700 to $1,000.”
If I could find out who took the picture, she said the photograph would be worth a lot more.
We won’t know until next season, in early 2024, if there were any big discoveries and appraisals at this year’s Raleigh Antiques Roadshow. I do know the adventure was priceless.