The WGBH series Antiques Roadshow is the most popular show on public television with nearly 10 million viewers each week, according to Skinner's appraiser Stuart Slavid. It is no surprise then that the What's It Worth open format appraisal event is one of the most popular events for the Andover Historical Society.
Hosted at on Locke Street, the event drew a crowd anxious to find out if their heirlooms or yard sale finds were treasure or trash. Slavid, who hosted the event, appears regularly on Antiques Roadshow and is a very well established appraiser and auctioneer. He described the antiques market these days as only having two tiers, the very top and the very bottom.
"Younger generations are no longer interested in objects." says Slavid. With iPhones and computers the emphasis has shifted away collecting things like coins, stamps, or even baseball cards. With the future market for collectibles and even antique furniture dwindling, only the super rare and exceptional objects are accelerating in value.
Slavid spent the evening giving each object a narrative and evaluating its value. A common theme throughout the event was an object that would be nearly four or five times the value had it not been "restored" or polished.
Explaining the difference between a restorer and a conservator Slavid said, "You always pay much more for a conservator." Simply removing a layer of grime and applying a varnish can significantly affect the value of an item.
Another common theme was the abundace of items trumped up to appear like something rare. Statuettes, paintings, and other objects are often sold to tourists who are caught unaware when buying a quick souveneir abroad with a much higher implied value. A signature or a date can easily be faked.
The story of an object's nature or origin often turns out to be misleading as well. Slavid described the nature of this to be similar to the game telephone, where the story is completely altered or exaggerated by the time it gets to the last person. A story does not add value to an object unless their is proof supplied to support it.
Take a look at the image gallery to see some of the objects and their stories.