This Is How To Get Something Appraised On Antiques Roadshow

"Antiques Roadshow" goes against most modern conceptions of reality television. It's slow-moving, thoughtful, and the drama is generally relegated to quiet surprise or disappointment when a guest's beloved family heirloom or quirky estate sale find turns out to be worth much more or much less than suspected. However, the program is actually one of the original reality shows. As reported by Reality Blurred, the show premiered as a one-off in Great Britain on the BBC in 1977. It went on to become a series in 1979, and the American version premiered in 1997, produced by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Boston affiliate WGBH. Since 2019, the show has doubled down on its historical focus by changing up its filming locations from hotel convention centers and the like to historically significant locations all around the country, including culturally important landmarks and homes. 

Despite the great attention to detail and care that goes into each episode, most people who spend the day with "Antiques Roadshow" don't end up on television. Per USA Today, for one 2014 episode, 18,000 people applied for a one-day appraisal event in New York and 3,000 pairs of tickets were awarded. This gets impressive upon learning that every ticket holder is allowed to bring an item and is guaranteed an appraisal from one of the appraisers. Of course, with that many appraisals going on, not every one can be filmed for the show. When an appraiser encounters an item with a particularly interesting story, they alert the producers, who bring everyone involved to a green room for filming. 

The appraisals are more about the story

As reported by USA Today, the average worth of an item brought to "Antiques Roadshow" is just $50. The real value for most guests as well as the show's staff and the viewers are the stories behind the antiques and the connections the items often provide between guests and their long-gone family members. In an interview with the Ralph Lowell Society newsletter for WGBH supporters, "Antiques Roadshow" Executive Producer Marsha Bemko, shown above, noted that after producing the show for 19 years, she still found it rewarding because of the show's ability to be what she called "'first documenters' — the first to discover something that has never been seen outside of the owner's family before. We have several examples of discoveries we've made over the years that contribute to the scholarship in whatever the genre may be." 

As Bemko told Reality Blurred, appraisers who appear on the show are not paid because the show's budget doesn't allow for it, nor does anyone do any buying or selling in the course of filming the show. Per the PBS FAQ page for "Antiques Roadshow," guests must bring their antique to the show for which they have tickets and can expect to receive a free verbal appraisal. Guests are asked to avoid researching the item ahead of time in order to "save the joy of learning about your item to the time you spend with us at our filming day. This maximizes your experience and that of the viewers watching the episode when it airs."