Saturday, June 7, 2014

Genealogy at "Antiques Roadshow"

I played hooky today.  I volunteered at the taping of Antiques Roadshow that took place at the Santa Clara County Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.  Instead of working on genealogy, I helped with production on the set, mostly by corraling lines of guests waiting for their appraisals.  I figured it was going to be a genealogy-free day.

But then I saw Ron and Pam Filion of SFGenealogy in the jewelry line and went over to say hello.  And a friend who used to be staff at the Oakland FamilySearch Library showed up in the collectibles line with her stepmother.  Then another woman in the collectibles line recognized me from a newspaper presentation I gave to the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society.  And a very sweet 91-year-old told me about her daughter, who used to be the director of the Santa Cruz FamilySearch Center.

On top of all that, David Gallagher of the Western Neighborhoods Project, with whom I worked on the committee that organized this year's San Francisco History Expo, was in the books and manuscripts line with a 1935 testimonial of some sort to "Uncle" Joe McLaren of the San Francisco Bohemian Club.  The oversize sheet was filled with signatures of people who wanted to say what a great guy Uncle Joe was.  The page had probably about 100 signatures.  What a fascinating resource to place those men in San Francisco in 1935!

Well, so much for my genealogy-free day!

I am a major Roadshow geek.  When I had time during my breaks I ran around and got autographs from almost all the appraisers.  I was sad that I wasn't able to get Kerry Shrives, because every time I went by she was busy doing appraisals.  And I didn't get Kevin Zavian, who kind of seemed to be in a grumpy mood anyway.  But I found out that Ted Trotta's mother's name is also Janice!

Volunteering to help at the Roadshow allows you to have two items appraised, the same as people who win tickets to attend.  I didn't do well with my jewelry items.  A brooch that my former boss sold me as early Victorian was appraised by Rhinestone Rosie as late Victorian and worth about only $50 (unfortunately, less than I paid for it).  A string of pearls the same boss had told me were cultured pearls from the 1920's Rosie and a second appraiser determined to be well made glass pearls with ground fish scales coating the outside to give a somewhat gritty texture, reminiscent of the texture of natural pearls.  She told me the sterling silver clasp was worth more than the pearls.  And this is the second time Rosie has told me my jewelry item was actually glass.  (I'm glad the pearls didn't cost me anything!)

I did much better with a gorgeous green silk cloak that was sold to me as having been worn by Maureen O'Hara in the movie Ten Gentlemen from West Point.  Two appraisers at the textiles table agreed that even without authentication of the provenance from the movie the cloak is worth what I paid for it (hooray!).  If I can find a still from the movie showing O'Hara in the cloak and get a certificate of authentication that the cloak was worn in the movie, however, the value goes to several thousand dollars.  I guess I gotta watch that movie sometime soon.  And O'Hara is still alive!  Maybe she remembers the cloak ....


  1. I'm so glad you got to go to the Roadshow again - what a fun day for you!

    It sounds like authenticating the provenance of an item is a lot like doing genealogy. I'd love to hear about the search for the cloak's authenticity, if and when you do verify it.

    1. This was the second time I've volunteered at a Roadshow production. I had an absolute blast.

      There are definitely similarities in documenting a line of people over time and documenting an item to a specific origin. They both involve going step by step in time and making sure all the connections are correct. I do plan to try to authenticate the cloak, but I don't know when. When I do, I'll be documenting each step anyway, so maybe it won't be that difficult to write about it. :)


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