Behind the Scenes at “Antiques Roadshow”

By Grace Dobush

The PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” was filming in Family Tree Magazine‘s hometown of Cincinnati on Saturday, and I and our intern Jen were lucky enough to see what goes on behind the scenes.

Something like 37,000 people entered the lottery for 3,000 pairs of free tickets for the Cincinnati event—a show record, from what I understand.

I’ll write about the experience and my interview with “Antiques Roadshow” producer Marsha Bemko in an upcoming Family Tree Magazine, but we won’t have room for all the photos I took. So I’m sharing some of them here (you can see several on Facebook, too).

First, an overview: Here’s the line of folks waiting for the “triage” area, where each person got a ticket to see the pottery or prints or folk art or other appraiser. The triage folks would spot unique items and decide whether an item’s appraisal would be filmed. The person who brought it was sent directly to the Green Room (off limits to press) until the appraisal took place.

Here’s where those lines for various types of items converged. Appraisals and filming happened in the screened area.

A big part of the day for guests was waiting in line.

These crew members are setting up to film an appraisal.

Here Wes Cowan, who’s been with the show for years and also stars on PBS’ “History Detectives,” examines a framed photograph. Cowan is from Cincinnati, but appraisers came from everywhere for the event.

We were invited to bring items for appraisal, too (and even lucky enough to bypass the line in my first photo above), so I wrapped up this glass bowl in plenty of bubble wrap. It was a wedding gift to my great-grandparents in 1908, and I don’t want to be the one to break it.

The glassware appraiser told me it’s called a bride’s basket, and this one’s style actually dates it to earlier than 1908, from the Victorian era. So it may have already been an heirloom when my great-grandmother received it. It’s not worth much money, which is fine with my mom and me—we want it to stay in our family forever. The appraisal was over in a few minutes. I got the feeling the appraiser has seen a lot of these.

Do want to make sure your family heirlooms are preserved for posterity? Here are some resources for you: