Tina Koenig didn’t mind waiting in line for hours in at the 2015 Antiques Roadshow in Orlando with a pair of boots formerly owned by Joe Strummer of the seventies punk band The Clash tucked beneath her arm. Strummer had pulled the boots right off his feet 35 years earlier and handed them as a souvenir to Koenig’s journalist husband during an interview.
“It’s a real adrenaline rush,” says Koenig of her experience. But then, Koenig is a true fan of Antiques Roadshow, the PBS television show where people bring antique or unique items to be appraised.
During the event, Koenig waited a couple of hours for a screener, then again for an appraiser.
“Would you be interested in going on TV?” a producer asked her. Well, of course.
Every Antiques Roadshow event is attended by thousands of participants, each believing the item they brought is probably worth big bucks. Many also hope to be featured on the show. The process isn’t as easy as it looks, though. If you’d like to get your old stuff appraised on the Antiques Roadshow, here’s an inside look at what you can expect.
You Must Apply to Win Tickets.
Each applicant can apply online or via postcard for two tickets to only one event per season. In 2017, there were six events in various cities, and the deadline to apply for tickets was in April. Check out complete ticket rules here or sign up for the “AR Extras” newsletter to receive e-mail alerts about events.
Tickets Are Not Easy to Win.
The Orlando Antiques Roadshow was Koenig’s third try at winning tickets. Generally, around 3,000 winners per event are selected from applicants and 6,000 tickets are distributed. When you apply, specify which entry time you prefer. Ticket holders are admitted every hour, and doors usually close at 5:30 p.m.
Expect Long Lines.
“Long lines are standard fare but the people waiting are generally patient and excited to be there,” says Mike Rivkin, owner of Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, who attended Antiques Roadshow in San Diego years ago.
Its An All-Day Affair.
“Plan on making it a full-day adventure,” says antiques and fine art specialist Gary Germer, who’s worked as appraisal staff for the show. Koenig’s entrance time was 10 a.m., and she was there until 5 p.m.
Be On Time.
Ticket rules advise against arriving more than 30 minutes early for your scheduled entrance time. However, if you arrive late, “you may join the end of the line,” according to the show’s FAQ.
There’s a Two-Item Limit.
Every ticket holder must bring at least one item but not more than two. However, a collection of closely related items may be considered one item.
Specialized Movers Handle Furniture.
If Antiques Roadshow selects your furniture, staff will contact you 30 days before the event to arrange for the show’s specialized mover to transport your furniture to and from the event.
The Appraisers Aren’t All-Knowing Geniuses.
It seems like every appraiser on Antiques Roadshow automatically knows the value of every item. However, that’s not the case. Each show has from 30 to 60 appraisers with numerous specialties on hand.
“Usually, for items they film, that appraiser has discussed it with several other appraisers,” says Germer. Appraisers also carry a large library of resources.
You Could Get the Wrong Appraiser.
Rivner got stuck with a military appraiser for some intricately carved arrows from India. “He clearly knew nothing about the items, mumbled a low-ball value, and turned away,” says Rivkin. “However, I had the sense that my experience was the exception and not the rule.”
Getting Filmed Doesn’t Mean You’ll Be on TV.
“They film a bunch more segments than they show so they can edit and make it fit in the time slot,” says Germer.
Koenig’s on-air segment, where an appraiser valued Strummer’s boots between $7,000 and $8,000, actually made it all the way to the final version. However, when Koenig took the boots to an actual appraiser later, their value couldn’t be verified due to a missing silver tip when compared with the rocker’s boots in photographs. Koenig, who still has the boots, doesn’t mind.
“It was the best day of my life,” she says.