After 17 years, Antiques Roadshow is still one of the most popular series on public television. Currently hosted by Mark Wahlberg, the show captivates millions of viewers each week. So what is it that enthralls so many people? The parade of antiquities that marches across their television screen, the stories behind them, and the sometimes astronomical appraisals of what often appears to be just another dusty old knick knack inherited from someone’s deceased relative.
We, The Fortune Hunters
Antiques Roadshow appeals to the fortune hunter in all of us. We may sit on our couches with bags of Fiddle Faddle in our laps, and shake our heads at the line of people in the background, waiting for a chance to have their items looked at by antiques experts. (That line on the TV set is just the tip of the iceberg, by the way. As many as 6,000 people or more typically arrive when Antiques Roadshow comes to towns like Billings, Montana, Jacksonville, Florida or Richmond, Virginia. The line continues off the set and down through the hallway.)
But when the Antiques Roadshow comes to our town, it makes us take a second look at the items in our home. What about that ugly lamp in the corner of the den? “Could it be?” we wonder. Many of us decide it’s worth a trip up to the attic, “Just to have a quick look around.” And pretty soon, if we are fortunate, we are suddenly one of those people, waiting patiently in line to find out if we are holding a valuable piece of history, or just a piece of family memorabilia.
It’s the stories behind the items that have kept us tuning in after all these years. From the dawn of civilization we have been eager to hear stories around campfires, from our childhood beds, at the office water cooler, and in our living rooms. “Tell us a story!” we say. And they do.
Timeless Stories Behind The Treasures
We hear stories about fabulous finds on yard sale tables, secret manuscripts wrapped in moth-eaten linen, letters signed by Confederate generals and presidents and precious vases spirited out of the country across choppy waters in creaky ships filled with immigrants. Stories of plunder, peril and unrequited love. It’s almost better than real life.And then there’s the money. Antiques Roadshow is almost like a daytime game show. Will the contestants walk out with a high valuation or a dud? The suspense is high, except in times when we all recognize the value of that crystal, even if the current owner does not. Most people can spot an iconic Rene Lalique piece a mile away, even from our couch. The sparkle, the clarity, the exquisite design cry out to us as perfection personified. We are still on the edge of our seats. How high will it be? Will the owner be astounded and cry with joy when they find out how much their antique Lalique is worth? Or will they try to maintain their dignity, nodding knowingly as they say, “Well, that’s very interesting.”
Antiques Roadshow exemplifies everything we are truly excited about in life. Passion, treasure and adventure. And that’s worth tuning in for.
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+DJL Lalique is the forum of David Weinstein, a lover of fine wine, fine living and fine antiques. He writes about the artwork of his favorite artist, Rene’ Lalique on his blog.