It only took about 15 years, but I finally got tickets to Antiques Roadshow! Tickets are a lottery process – you apply and hope you get tickets. But 2019 was my year, and in February I got the magic email that said I had won tickets for filming at Winterthur, which was today.
The drive to Winterthur once you get off the highway is magical. My friend Amy went with me as my Antiques Roadshow plus one.
We arrived and wound our way through Winterthur and the Antiques Roadshow checkpoints along the way.
We parked in one of the lots and meandered down a shady path to a building where we checked in with our tickets.
When we reached the check-in building, we then had our tickets checked again and we got in a longer line to queue up for shuttle buses.
The shuttle buses took us further into Winterthur where we assembled in yet another line and waited to be “triaged”.
Being “triaged” means they preview the two items that each Antiques Roadshow ticket holder can bring with them. We then get our tickets that list the categories our items fall into. I bought a book and a little Chinese porcelain box I picked out of a barn. My friend Amy bought some other decorative arts category items to be appraised.
It was waiting in this line that Amy and I encountered our first few grumpy old women ticket holders.
I had taken a photo of the “triage” that we were waiting for and the Winterthur building rising beyond it that we would eventually go into and this super cranky old woman with her two cranky wing women had to point out the sign a good ways up ahead where we would be in a cell phone free zone. With filming and other things they wanted our phones off, which was understandable.
But honestly this group of three cranky old women with their fearless leader of multiple comments was a bit much. I smiled and said we hadn’t reached the point of turning off our phones yet and I was taking a picture of the line leading to the building because I was writing about my Antiques Roadshow experience afterwards. She mumbled some final huffy comment and they shuffled off to their “triage” x 3.
First stop post “triage” was having my book looked at. It was a 1950s Modern Library edition of Robert Frost poetry that Robert Frost had signed up at St. Paul’s School when he was visiting as part of I think their Conroy Distinguished Visitors Program.
I love Robert Frost poetry. I had picked up this volume out of a box of books marked 25 cents at the Christmas Bazaar at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr at some point in the 1990s.
After I had given the book room volunteer their quarter, I flipped it open to check the table of contents so I could read The Road Not Taken. What I discovered next was Robert Frost had signed the book to a student. And then the book was stamped Waverly Heights Library (as in the senior living community in Gladwyne.)
I had always wanted to have this book looked at to see what it was worth. Not because I expected it to be priceless but out of curiosity.
So I stood in the book line until it was my turn. Ken Gloss of Brattle Book Shop in Boston appraised it. Mr. Gloss was kind of antiseptic about my book. He had to point out it was a student edition so the book wasn’t worth much. He didn’t love my book as I love my book. He valued it at $100 because of the poet’s signature.
Next stop was Asian Art. My appraiser was Robert Waterhouse. He and Lark Mason were doing appraisals in a courtyard in front of the Chinese Pavilion Folly. It’s actually part of a current garden art installation. He appraised a green and white Chinese porcelain box I have.
Mr. Waterhouse was very nice and my box which cost me the princely sum of $2 is a modern 20th century Chinese box worth about $20. So while my box might not be the next great artifact, it’s still a treasure to me! And Mr. Waterhouse took the time to explain to me what to look for if I ever found another box.
My friend Amy had her items appraised and was verbally accosted by yet another grumpy old lady. This one was concerned about her umbrella which was neatly folded up and not accosting anyone.
The Antiques Roadshow made for amazing people watching. And it was fun seeing everyone’s treasures while we were waiting in line. There was a couple ahead of me in the book appraisal line with a really unusual box who got whisked away by producers and there was a man to my left that show producers were talking to who had this crazy cool Civil War porcelain pitcher and some other Civil War memorabilia item that was a textile of some kind.
It was really interesting watching them do the show. We learned that for the folks they filmed although we will only see a couple of quick minutes when the Winterthur shows air, they actually take a lot of time with people. We certainly didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t get the warm and fuzzies from the book appraiser that was for sure, but he wasn’t as bad as all of the cranky old women.
Seriously – for all the excited happy people like us who were having a ball being at the one and only Antiques Roadshow, there were literally these legions of cranky old women. It was bizarre to watch. I am not a patient person and hate waiting in lines and I loved every minute! And the Antiques Roadshow staff? They were all so nice! It was amazing!
On our way into the gift shop and ladies room we met the current Ms. Maryland! She was my first beauty queen and couldn’t have been nicer!
We somehow missed the famous feedback booth and then were on our way back to the car. We both thought it was over too soon. It totally lived up to our expectations.
On our way home we were going to go to Buckley’s Tavern for dinner, but we ended up at Brandywine Prime.
Because when we pulled into the parking lot of Buckley’s walking into the front door was the first gaggle of cranky old women we encountered standing in the “triage” line! We looked at each other and burst out laughing and said with our luck we would get seated next to them and be under their disapproving stare for dinner.
We had a great dinner at Brandywine Prime and headed home. Amusingly enough, the Philadelphia Inquirer was there covering the Roadshow:
by Stephanie Farr, Updated: June 18, 2019 – 6:46 PM
Delaware News Journal was there too:
BETSY PRICE | DELAWARE NEWS JOURNAL | 5 hours ago
I highly recommend that people fill out the application for the ticket lottery if Antiques Roadshow is ever coming to your neck of the woods. It was so much fun!