AV Club: “What happens behind the scenes before an ‘Antiques Roadshow’ appraisal?”

Nice interview with Nicholas Lowry, who appraises posters and prints on “Antiques Roadshow.”

I attended an “Antiques Roadshow” taping in Boston, years back. I recall waiting in lots of lines, and lots of interactions that I wouldn’t have handled nearly as well if it had been happening when I was in my early Twenties instead of my early Thirties.

It doesn’t sound as though the basic procedure has changed since then. Your ticket tells you to show up at a certain hour of the day. You join an enormous line that isn’t far removed from World War II photos of people fleeing a village just a few steps ahead of the Nazis: people of all social strata, each clutching a cumbersome but priceless (?) item, wrapped and protected as best they can manage, and slowly moving forward.

The refugees probably didn’t spend so much time rehearsing their Colorful Stories. “This is a portable writing desk, from the time of the Civil War,” a woman behind me told me, with little provocation. “You can tell from the decoration that it was owned by an officer, of some means.”

“How interesting,” I said.

Meanwhile, I was thinking “It doesn’t look anything like the right style for the mid-1800s. The edges of the wood are crisp, as though it had been made recently instead of being hauled around from battlefield to battlefield. There aren’t even any patterns of wear in any of the places where you’d expect to find some, if this were a genuine thing that had actually been used as directed.”

Hence, the value of being slightly more mature than I once was. Oh, boy, the stories I collected. I was like Christopher Walken in “The Dead Zone,” able to see the imminent tragedies that would befall the people I met. Only instead of seeing people getting killed, I saw appraisers laughing at them, and instead of doing something about it, I just sort of kept an eye peeled in the trash bins around the convention center for a Civil War Officer’s Traveling Writing Desk.