Shawnee Dispatch

Beal: 'Antiques Roadshow' visit one valuable, humbling experience

John Beal's column, Cabbages and Kings, appears monthly on the Voices page of The Dispatch. Beal is a Shawnee resident and retired editor of The Dispatch. Enlarge photo

September 4, 2013

Sometimes I wonder how many friendships and family relationships “Antiques Roadshow” has put to the test over the years.

At least, that’s the impression that is left from watching the program from time to time on public television. Every so often, someone shows up with some dingy painting or doodad that a friend or family member has given them as a housewarming gift or something, and it turns out it’s a long-lost artifact from upper nowhere that’s worth thousands of dollars.

It does raise an interesting question, to wit: What do you do when someone gives you a gift that turns out to be worth quite a lot of money? I don’t pretend to know the exact etiquette of the situation, but there are several possibilities. I guess if you look at it one way, then a gift is a gift and one shouldn’t feel any obligation to return it or compensate the donor if it turns out to be more valuable than anyone expected. On the other hand, if you gave someone a what-not that you later discovered was valuable, what would you expect?

Whatever. I am happy to report that our visit to “Antiques Roadshow,” which we accomplished when the crew set up shop in Bartle Hall last month, will engender no resentments or raised eyebrows among our family and friends.

The wife and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the event on Aug. 10, and so we loaded up a couple of items each and went off to see what they were worth. As it happened, everything we took we either purchased ourselves or inherited from family members who have long since gone to their reward.

And it turned out, the stuff wasn’t worth much anyway. The closest thing to an exception was an 18th-century prayer book that I bought in a used book store in England in 1965; it was still in its original binding, the appraiser said, and was complete, and so would be worth about $200 – a considerable appreciation over the equivalent to $2.45 that I paid for it almost 50 years ago.

But the other stuff was pretty much a no-show. I also took a painting I bought in 1959 that turned out to be a print ($50), and my wife took an antique doll with a value of about $40 (purchased at Woolworth’s, the appraiser said), and a few egg cups worth about the same.

So, don’t look for us when the show airs in the next season, whenever that will be.

Still, although we were denied our moment in the spotlight, such fame is fleeting anyway, and we had a good time in the bargain.

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