Antiques Roadshow Appraisers Are Not Paid. Here's Why

For two decades, fans have been tuning in to one of PBS' most popular programs, "Antiques Roadshow." As noted on PBS' website, the show is "part adventure, part history lesson, and part treasure hunt!" Three key ingredients make the show: The fans who bring in their "treasures," the objects themselves, and the men and women who tell the fans that their treasures are worth tens of thousands of dollars (or just as often, that they're worthless). Officially known as "appraisers" in show parlance and in their professional lives, the men and women who evaluate the condition of the antiques and inform the fans of their value (or lack thereof) are, when not appearing on the show, professionals in the world of antiques and artifacts. Often they work in (or own) professional appraisal businesses, auction houses, or other businesses associated with the antiques and artifacts trade.

Despite the education and experience each appraiser brings to the set of "Antiques Roadshow," it turns out that they're not paid a dime, although they do get access to snacks at an on-set canteen.

'Antiques Roadshow' appraisers get paid in exposure

Despite the essential role they play in the "Antiques Roadshow" machine, the appraisers do not get paid for appearing on the show. In fact, as Mental Floss notes, they even have to pay for their own travel, if necessary. As executive producer Marsha Bemko told Reality Blurred, the reason for that is budgetary. "If we had to pay them ... that's a lot more to raise in our budget — a lot more. A stunning a lot more!," she said. They do, however, get provided a free breakfast and lunch from an on-set canteen.

So why are appraisers giving up long days to appear on the show if they're not getting paid (or possibly even losing money by having to pay for travel)? It's because they get an intangible benefit: free exposure. Further, as Mental Floss explains, appearing on the show and showing off their appraisal skills bolsters the appraiser's profile in the antiques industry.