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    Things We Commonly See at ROADSHOW

    • What to Bring to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW?

      What to Bring to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW?

      Each summer 70 of ROADSHOW's appraisers in two dozen areas of expertise greet guests and look at more than 60,000 antiques and collectibles. What follows is a slideshow of the types of objects our experts see most frequently in their travels. These items are fairly common throughout the country — and most have a value below $500. Read on to learn about the items that might be tucked away in your attic. Or, if you have tickets to one of our events this summer, it might help you decide what to bring. Enjoy!

    • Large Collections or Groupings

      Large Collections or Groupings

      So many artifacts associated with warfare, particularly the American Civil War, exert a strong tug on history buffs and collectors. Items as small and personal as insignia, buttons and buckles can often seem to evoke the drama and struggle of a bygone era. As such these items are always welcome at ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. Our Arms & Militaria experts suggest you bear in mind, however, that the time they can spend with each guest's objects is limited, so please be cautious about large groupings of items that may require individual attention.

      (Image: Courtesy of Rafael Eledge)

    • Japanese Dragon-Decorated Porcelain Tea & Coffee Services

      Japanese Dragon-Decorated Porcelain Tea & Coffee Services

      During World War II and the Korean conflict, many American service men and women were stationed in Asia and returned home with an interest in Asian art as well as mementos of their time there. In most cases, the items were new and purchased as gifts for family members. The most common of these that we see at Antiques Roadshow are Japanese dragon-decorated porcelain tea and coffee services, usually consisting of a small number of individual pieces in tones of red, blue, or grey. These were made by a variety of factories and often incorporate translucent images of young women in the base of the tea cups. Many are stamped "Made in occupied Japan." The workmanship is often good, but the large quantity of these that were made, combined with changes in taste over time, mean that there are fewer potential buyers than sellers. The values at auction for these sets are almost always under $100.

      (Image: Courtesy of Lark Mason)

    • Family Bibles

      Family Bibles

      ROADSHOW's Books & Manuscripts experts see a lot of family bibles at each event — often dozens in each city. Large family bibles were mass-produced and sold throughout the country during the end of the 19th century. If the quality and condition are quite good, they can sometimes have a $200 to $400 auction estimate, but typically they have little commercial value unless signed by a historically important figure. If it's your own family bible, the real value is surely sentimental, and it should be treasured as such.

      (Image: Photo by A. J. Holman & Co USA)

    • Black Mantel Clocks

      Black Mantel Clocks

      During the 1860s, the French were producing mantel clocks in slate, onyx, or marble cases. These became popular in the U.S., but the stone cases were expensive to produce, so American clock manufacturers started producing cheaper, similar-looking clocks with iron or wood cases finished in a polished black paint. These have become known to collectors as "Black Mantel Clocks." The vast majority ranged in price from approximately $4 to $10, with some companies making over 100 models of the form. Today these clocks can be found in most antique shops and flea markets, and consequently are not highly valuable — mostly in the $50 to $100 range. However, if they have an unusual color and are polished up, they can sell for as much as $550 in some fancy retail shops.

      (Image: Courtesy of John Delaney)

    • Kitchen & Parlor Clocks

      Kitchen & Parlor Clocks

      This clock form appears to have been an American design, first appearing in American clock catalogs in the 1870s and sold in great numbers through the early 20th century. Typically they are constructed in either oak or walnut. When the cases are in oak they are often called "kitchen" or "gingerbread" clocks; when in walnut, they are usually called "parlor" clocks. Many variations are found in form and design due to the fact that all seven of the major American clock companies produced clocks like these. These clocks were relatively inexpensive and could be purchased by mail order; during the early 1900s practically every home in America had one, so a great number survive today. Most have a retail value of $50 to $100. However, if they have an unusual design, for example featuring a portrait of Admiral Dewy, President McKinley, or General Lee, they can be valued for as much as $650 to some collectors.

      (Image: Courtesy of John Delaney)

    • Open-Face Pocket Watches

      Open-Face Pocket Watches

      Open-face pocket watches, particularly ones with the brand names of Elgin or Waltham, were made in tremendous quantities and consequently have mostly sentimental value as family heirlooms to their current owners. These pocket watches are usually the size of a half dollar and the cases are gold-filled. The way to check if it is gold-filled is by placing your thumb in the middle of the case and applying pressure. If the back of the watch is very hard it is probably gold-filled. Retail values of these watches are typically below $500.

      (Image: From

    • Postcards


      Of the hundreds of thousands of postcards that have been produced throughout the years, only a very small number have values exceeding $5. Very early, turn-of-the-century photographic postcards of, for instance, famous early sports figures and other historic subjects such as the Titanic, are of interest to focused collectors and have sold for as much as $500 to $700, but that is the very top end of the postcard market. Some rare holiday postcards — Christmas and Halloween in particular — can be worth $50 to $100, but the vast majority of postcards we see at ROADSHOW are worth between 5 cents and $1.

      (Image: Photo by A.L. Simpson)

    • Vintage Sewing Machines

      Vintage Sewing Machines

      While old and well made, vintage sewing machines are generally worth $250 or less, and most often much less, even when they are on their original table or have their original case with original attachments. Because the sewing machine was a big investment for families in the 19th and 20th centuries, most families kept their sewing machines and passed them down to family members, and because they were prized possessions, there are still a great number of them on the market.

      (Image: Photo by Panjigally)

    • Marble Collections

      Marble Collections

      Marbles are such a niche collecting area, with specimens varying in price from 10 cents to thousands of dollars. It's very difficult for the collectibles experts at our ROADSHOW events to assist people who bring jars containing hundreds of marbles because each marble is unique.

      (Image: Photo by Joe Mabel)

    • Record Albums

      Record Albums

      While many rare records have achieved staggering prices in the current marketplace, only a very small percentage of LPs, 78s, and 45s are considered rare. In addition to this, condition is so important that the albums achieving high market prices are in mint, never-opened, unplayed condition. Like a new car driving off the dealer's lot, if your record — no matter how pristine — was ever opened and played, it is automatically considered not in mint condition. The vast majority of record albums are worth less than $15.

      (Image: Photo © jimkruger/

    • Butterfly Wing Art

      Butterfly Wing Art

      We see a dozen or more of these at every ROADSHOW event. They're made in South America, primarily Brazil, as tourist items. Most of the time they take the form of trays. Many of them are attractive and charming, but generally don't ever have market value greater than $50.

      (Image: Photo by Tracy F./

    • Oval Reverse Paintings on Glass

      Oval Reverse Paintings on Glass

      We see a ton of these at ROADSHOW — often landscapes, or sometimes featuring American tourist sights such as the Statue of Liberty — but always worth $100 or less.

      (Image: Photo by ChrisTanck/

    • Pyrography Boxes

      Pyrography Boxes

      These objects are generally homemade from pyrography ("fire writing") kits bought in your local department or hardware store as a hobby or craft activity. They come with a decorative pattern that can be traced onto a plain wooden box with a hot pen-like poker. Elaborate as they sometimes are, these decorative boxes generally have a value of less than $100.

      (Image: Photo by Steven Baer/

    • Dolls and Paraphernalia Made After 1965

      Dolls and Paraphernalia Made After 1965

      In the Dolls category, an area of frequent disappointment for our guests broadly comprises almost all dolls (including Barbies) and doll clothing made after 1965 — even if they say "Collectible" or "Limited Edition." The same goes for Madame Alexander dolls made after 1960. All of these dolls and their related materials are out there in abundance and have very little market value today — in fact, unfortunately, often far less than they cost originally. Antique German dolls with sleeping eyes and open mouths with teeth are also very common on the antique market, so these too appraise at low values.

      (Image: Photo by Kathi Fly/ Used with Permission.)

    • Worn and Torn Quilts
      FOLK ART

      Worn and Torn Quilts

      Virtually every family has a quilt made by grandma or great-grandma. Unfortunately most of these quilts were used, washed, or repaired. Quilts in worn and frayed condition are rarely salable and usually cannot be restored. Collectors want quilts in perfect condition with no worn edges or faded colors. Machine washing causes the filling in the quilts to bunch up, causing the surface to crinkle in ways collectors run from. Crazy quilts in silk that date from the last quarter of the 19th century very often have torn or worn silk strips, which also renders them unsalable.

      (Image: From

    • Modern Needlework Samplers
      FOLK ART

      Modern Needlework Samplers

      Schoolgirl samplers are one of the hottest areas of collecting now, but only those from the golden age of needlework, roughly 1740-1840. In addition, collectors want samplers with more than letters and numbers; they want images of people, animals, and buildings. Samplers with only letters and numbers from the Victorian era to the present rarely attract collector interest or bring more than $100.

      (Image: From

    • Tourist Carvings
      FOLK ART

      Tourist Carvings

      Delicate carvings depicting cowboys, monks and European peasants in native costumes can be beautifully executed and often with enough figures to create entire tableaux of life on the ranch, in the village, or on a ship. But they rarely excite the interest of collectors. The market unfortunately does not uniformly reward the long hours or high levels of technical skill often seen in these pieces. The individual figures rarely sell for more than $10 to $20 a piece.

      (Image: From

    • Pre-Electricity Farm Tools and Kitchen Appliances
      FOLK ART

      Pre-Electricity Farm Tools and Kitchen Appliances

      People cleaning out barns and basements often run across the labor- saving devices of earlier centuries — butter churns, apple corers, egg beaters and the like, which with a little bit of effort were able to cut the time spent to create grandma's prize-winning apple pie. Unfortunately the market for kitchen collectibles has been on a downward slide for almost a decade and shows no signs of recovery. With very few Americans living on a farm or churning their own butter these collectibles seem to have lost their place in our hearts and memories.

      (Image: From

    • Plastic Scrimshaw (aka
      FOLK ART

      Plastic Scrimshaw (aka "Fakeshaw")

      By the 1970s scrimshaw collecting had gone mainstream and it was a guarantee that modern reproductions would soon follow. Enter "Fakeshaw." Thermoplastic polymer resins cast in the form of whale teeth, walrus tusks, and whale jawbones flooded the market. They now turn up at every ROADSHOW, even in cities that get no closer to the ocean than a Red Lobster restaurant. The Kendall Whaling Museum has put together a checklist of fakeshaws listing the various patterns and inscriptions of each known example. These modern interpretations are identifiable by their ashen, not ivory, color and the numerous fake cracks set in the "teeth" and filled with black inking. Fakeshaw is decorative but not collectible.

      (Image: From

    • Rocking Chairs

      Rocking Chairs

      These were made in large numbers, used, and treasured by generations, yet are not much loved by collectors today. Rocking chairs were mass-produced starting in Victorian times and through much of the 20th century. We see them in every configuration of woods, with inlays, paints, and carved decoration. They come with arms, without arms, with and without upholstery. They are referred to as nursing rockers for ones with low seats, and porch rockers for big ones with rattan or splint seats. Rarely are they valued above $200. Exceptions are the modern classics by masters such as Sam Maloof, or ones owned by JFK.

      (Image: Courtesy of J. Michael Flanigan)

    • Baby Furniture

      Baby Furniture

      Furniture made for babies and young children — once the children outgrow them — is usually relegated to the attic or basement. Subsequent generations are reluctant to throw out these pieces, but equally reluctant to use them, hence the high survival rate. Children's chairs, high chairs, even ones that convert to strollers or rocking chairs, cribs and cradles are not much collected today and are typically used only by doll collectors to display dolls. Thus they are rarely valued above $200.

      (Image: Courtesy of J. Michael Flanigan)

    • Early 20th-Century Occasional Tables

      Early 20th-Century Occasional Tables

      In the 18th and early 19th centuries any tables used in the parlor or living room had a function, such as playing cards, serving tea, sewing, or for candles. Most were at least 27 inches high and not higher than 30 inches. The modern living room demanded smaller side tables placed next to chairs and sofas, usually no more than 25 inches tall and fit for ash trays, coasters, and bric-a-brac. These tables were produced in factories in every style imaginable and were typically scaled-down versions of the original antiques, adapted for modern usage. They most often sell for around $100.

      (Image: Courtesy of J. Michael Flanigan)

    • Victorian Dome-Top Trunks and Cedar Chests

      Victorian Dome-Top Trunks and Cedar Chests

      If you think your luggage gets tossed around in today's airports, imagine how things were in the days of train, stage, and steamer travel. The great innovation of the metal-banded dome-top trunk prevented stacking and protected your entire wardrobe on long journeys. Unfortunately, all that travel was tough on the trunks, and today they can't be used for much. Cedar chests that protected all those woolen blankets are still useful but out of style in modern bedrooms. Even in good condition they rarely attract buyers above a couple of hundred dollars (and are tough to lug around the ROADSHOW set!).

      (Image: From )

    • Damaged or Patterned Stemware

      Damaged or Patterned Stemware

      ROADSHOW's Glass appraisers see lots of stemware, and often the first question asked by the guest is, "Can you tell me the name of this pattern?" Since there were many, many thousands of patterns designed all around the world, it is usually impossible to research pattern names at the event due to time constraints. It can take hours of searching, and even that doesn't always yield an answer. However, most appraisers can give a value range based on the manufacturer (if known), age (family history), shape, color, condition, weight, wear marks. Generally speaking, the odds of finding high-value pieces in the retail antique or auction markets would be for pieces produced in the 17th, 18th, 19th, and mid-way into the 20th century. If you think your stemware was produced before the 1950s, and the stemware is in a set, it is advisable to bring the whole set — not just one piece. Typically, general household glassware stems can range anywhere from $1 to $20 per stem; collectible stemware from $20 to $200 per stem; and stemware wanted by advanced collectors from $200 to thousands of dollars per stem. Finally, if possible, it's best to bring perfect pieces of glass to ROADSHOW, as damage of any kind will diminish value greatly except on the very rarest of glass pieces.

      (Image: Courtesy of Kathy Bailey)

    • Shell Cameos [make a fine vs. crude split slide]

      Shell Cameos

      We see a great many shell cameos on ROADSHOW, and many of them are ones that family members have brought back after a trip to Italy or that came back with servicemen after World War II. While there are those that have value (primarily those from the 19th century), the majority of mid-20th-century cameos do not have significant value. The reason why is that they were generally either carved by machine, or by workers who were paid by the number of pieces they could carve — so the faster they could do a carving that was representative of a face the more they could produce. The best way to tell the quality of your cameo is to look at the level of detail in the face and hair. If it looks like a beautiful woman with beautiful features, then it is probably worth something; if it looks more like a sketch of a woman's profile, then it is probably not worth a great deal. Also note that as a rule, the smaller the cameo, and the less detail there is, the less value it will have.

      (Images: Courtesy of Peter Shemonsky)

    • Russian Brass Samovars

      Russian Brass Samovars

      Regardless of location, our Metalwork experts see 6 to 12 at each ROADSHOW event, and they are indeed very attractive and interesting contraptions. The samovars are usually brass or silver plate, and most guests bring them in missing the tray, chimney, and the teapot that sits atop the chimney in the most typical designs. Samovars in Russia were a common part of the culture, like the toasters and microwaves of today — every family had one. In the usual design, the samovar was filled with hot coals in a central tube and water was heated around it; the teapot would contain concentrated tea that you could dilute with water from the samovar. Brass and plate samovars are not at all rare, and thus their values tend to stay in the low hundreds of dollars, even for the nicest examples.

      (Image: From

    • Commercially Produced Violins

      Commercially Produced Violins

      During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of violins were produced in large workshops and factories in Germany, France, and Czechoslovakia. Many of these bear the facsimile labels of such famous makers as Antonius Stradivarius, Joseph Guarnerius, Guadagnini, Maggini, Amati, Maggini, Bergonzi, Stainer, and others. Such labels usually denote that the instrument was styled after or inspired by a model made by one of these makers. Often these violins are commercial-grade products and were sold relatively cheaply through music shops and catalogs for students and amateur musicians. Occasionally, a better violin bears such a label, although this is rare. If you own a violin that seems fairly old, most likely it is one of these commercially produced instruments. If you were to get it put into playable condition it could be of use for a student or amateur musician. You can always check the musical instruments section of your local yellow pages, or online, to see if there is a violin dealer in your area who could have a look at the instrument for you. Call first to make an appointment and ask if there is a fee for appraisals.

      (Image: From

    • Frequently Copied Works

      Frequently Copied Works

      Admittedly, "frequently copied works" is a very broad designation for the visual arts, but this image of the 17th-century painting Man with a Golden Helmet (at one time, though no longer, attributed to Rembrandt), is a good example of a popular image that has been reproduced countless times over the centuries by both amateur and professional artists. From Man with a Golden Helmet to Pharaoh's Horses by John Fredrick Herring Sr., these particular compositions appear with great frequency at ROADSHOW's Paintings table. Depending on the skill of the artist and the period of the work, such copies are generally of decorative value only, and we suggest you avoid bringing them to the event in favor of something that may have greater interest.

      (Image: Man with a Golden Helmet, formerly attributed to Rembrandt)

    • Photographs by Wallace Nutting

      Photographs by Wallace Nutting

      Wallace Nutting was a furniture maker and photographer who, during the course of a 30-year career, apparently created millions of photographs — an unheard-of sum! Given the enormous supply, his scenic pictures are considered decorative photographic prints and, depending on their size, condition, and whether they are framed, may have a retail value of $25 to $100 in antique shops.

      (Image: Courtesy of Daile Kaplan)

    • Porcelain Dinnerware, ca. 1890-1960s

      Porcelain Dinnerware, ca. 1890-1960s

      Porcelain dinnerware, usually French but often Japanese or American, from about 1890 to the 1960s, has tremendous sentimental value but limited market appeal. Most guests who bring in such pieces understand that new dinnerware sets, usually of inferior quality, can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. How could something a century old (in some cases), by famous names like Haviland, from Limoges, France, with such history and in such great condition, be worth only $5 apiece? Our experts hate having to deliver this news, and guests don't like hearing it, but it's true. We see perhaps a hundred such sets during an average ROADSHOW event. With rare exceptions, the average 100-year-old, transfer-decorated, floral porcelain dinner service for 12, plus accessories, totaling about 100 pieces, is worth only about $500 retail. Are there exceptions? Certainly, but they are extremely rare. If the plates have center, rather than border, decoration, and they're hand-painted, that's a fine start. Finally, keep in mind that the presence of an artist's signature does not necessarily mean a piece is hand-painted!

      (Image: From

    • Religious Imagery

      Religious Imagery

      For fairly obvious reasons, religious colored prints and images in frames, particularly depicting Jesus, the Last Supper, angels, or one of the saints, are exceedingly common. When the color printing industry achieved the ability to recreate attractive color prints at an affordable price, which happened around 1880-1890, unsurprisingly, images of Jesus became a commodity. These attractive color images were widely sold as pre-framed devotional art for the home; many religious families bought one or more, and they were often passed down through the generations, like family bibles. And while they are often legitimately over 100 years old, and the colors and images attractive and appealing, they can be found in flea markets and second-hand shops around the world priced between $100 and $150, or less.

      (Image: Religious print, ca. 1890s, from

    • Other Common Prints

      Other Common Prints

      Other prints we see at ROADSHOW in great numbers: prints from 19th-century fashion periodicals; early 20th-century color prints in imitation of dramatic 18th-century mezzotints; Wallace Nutting photographic prints; and certificate prints for allegiance to brotherhoods (Freemasons, Elks, etc.). Many of these are very decorative but in general do not carry much market value.

      (Image: From

    • American Landscape Etchings, ca. 1900

      American Landscape Etchings, ca. 1900

      We see a number of landscape etchings belonging to the American "Etching Revival" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in earth tones with aquatint, at virtually every ROADSHOW event. They are typically signed in pencil, and sometimes even titled by hand too, which can be very exciting. But they are signed by entirely unknown artists; albeit artists who are talented to a point, but that is not enough to confer significant market value. They were mass-produced as a means of inexpensively decorating homes and as such they are ubiquitous. They can be found in all sorts of garage sales and flea markets for between $50 and $100.

      (Image: Landscape by Geroge Bohde, from

    • Machine-Woven Jacquard Tapestries, Table Covers and Coverlets

      Machine-Woven Jacquard Tapestries, Table Covers and Coverlets

      These are some of the most often-seen objects by ROADSHOW's Textiles experts. While these tapestries can look hand-woven to the untrained eye, they were woven by machine primarily in France, Belgium, or Italy during the first half of the 20th century, with examples still manufactured today. In general these pieces tend to be quite small — ranging in size from 18x36 inches to 36x48 inches — and often depict interior or exterior genre scenes, exotic scenes from the Near East, or are reproductions of earlier hand-woven tapestries. They tend to be fairly muted in color — faded looking — and will have a much less distinct pattern on the back then they do on the face. The biggest clue to determining if a tapestry, table cover or coverlet is a jacquard is if it is labeled or stamped on the back with a country of origin. While these tapestries were extremely popular decorative accessories during the early 20th century, they were made in extremely large quantities and do not have much secondary market value today. Unfortunately, they are rarely worth more than $100.

      (Image: Courtesy of James Ffrench)

    • Victorian Silver-Plated Pitchers

      Victorian Silver-Plated Pitchers

      We often see Victorian silver-plated water pitchers at ROADSHOW, and by and large they have only nominal value. Almost every household of even modest means during the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries had a silver-plated pitcher on the sideboard to keep iced water. They were prized family heirlooms often because they were received for wedding gifts and milestone anniversaries. They came in all styles and variations and countless examples survive from the very simple ones with hinged lids to extravagant examples with tilting stands and matching goblets. While in theory there could be an example that is not silver plate, our appraisers have never actually seen one made of sterling or coin silver at a ROADSHOW event. They were made by a number of companies and usually are marked on the bottom with the company marks and some variation of the words electro-plate, quadruple plate, nickel silver, or the initials EPNS (Electro Plate Nickel Silver). Very often the silver plate is worn away and they have the appearance of pewter.

      (Image: From

    • Sports Cards (1970 to Present)

      Sports Cards (1970 to Present)

      ROADSHOW's Sports Memorabilia experts always find that a number of guests bring in sports cards from their childhood, particularly from the 1970s and later. It's worth remembering, however, that these cards were and are manufactured in huge quantities and the vast majority of them, with only rare exceptions, are worth between a few pennies and a few dollars and don't have a high level of desirability in the secondary market. Many sets, particularly those of the last 30 years, can be purchased for between $10 and $50. Even rookie cards of legendary athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are worth under $100 unless they are in what is graded Gem Mint 10 condition.

      (Image: Courtesy of Skinner, Inc.)

    • Toys Marked

      Toys Marked "Made in China"

      As almost everyone has had cause to notice, toys marked "Made in China" — or Hong Kong, Korea, or Taiwan, for that matter — are extremely common. It is hard to be specific, as even in this area there are always exceptions, but generally any toy you are likely to have that's marked "Made in China" was probably made too recently and in far too great a number to have any significant collector value.

      (Image: Photo by Shashank Duhan)

    • Arrowheads and Pre-Columbian Clay Fragments

      Arrowheads and Pre-Columbian Clay Fragments

      Arrowheads and clay fragments have a lot in common with marbles when it comes to our ability to evaluate them adequately at a ROADSHOW appraisal event. Most specimens are worth very little ($5 or less), but each and every one is unique, and it requires much more time than is available to examine and properly assess value — especially when a whole collection is involved, as it often is with enthusiastic collectors! The large collection of arrowheads pictured here sold for $350.

      (Image: Courtesy of John Buxton)

    • Turquoise Jewelry and Assorted Bead Collections

      Turquoise Jewelry and Assorted Bead Collections

      The "arrowhead rule" applies to these types of collections too. In the available time at ROADSHOW, it's hard to give each one the attention it needs for careful assessment — but typically most individual pieces do not have much market value. The turquoise collection shown here (top) sold for $75, while assorted beads such as this one (bottom) usually sell for under $100.

      (Image: Courtesy of John Buxton)

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