Brush with Celebrity
At the entrance our items were examined and we received tickets for the appropriate appraisor tables. Luckily, furniture, jewelry, and watches were all adjacent. A volunteer escorted us through the crowd. My first, and lasting impression of the "set" was it's size. Watching the show one gets the impression of great space. But in reality the familiar Roadshow banners enclosed a relatiely small area within a much larger exhibit hall.
We pressed past a familiar looking carpeted appraisal stand with small objects on it -- clearly awaiting their moment under the lens. Quite suddenly we were the slightly lost looking people milling around in the background while appraisers chatted with "winning" guests on camera.
"There's a Keno," I said as we reached our area (the brothers look enough alike that I could not tell which it was). Andrew peeled off to check in at the furniture table and I went on to jewelry. My first appraisal was quick. The gold rush pins have some value, but were not broadcast worthy. The two larger lockets were not even gold (my mother would be terribly disappointed).
My watches proved to be ordinary but not valuless -- pretty much as I expected. I put my items and notes away and went over to furniture.
"What's up?" I asked Andrew, who was now chatting with Wendell Garrett, who held Andrew's table top nestled against his wheelchair. Mr. Garrett focuses on historical pieces. It turned out, he and Andrew had acquaintences in common, so they'd been having a lovely chat.
"They're thinking of doing an over-the-shoulder. I need to speak to this producer," he noded at a woman in headset with a clipboard. I was amused by his rapid adoption of TV production lingo. I chatted with Mr. Garrett, who held Andrew's table top almost lovingly, while Andrew had a short meeting with the producer.Then he stepped over to the Kenos again, and finally they all came over to Mr. Garrett and me.
"You see," he said, "sometimes it's what we don't find that's important. If this were an old table, there would be wear marks here. . ."
Then he inverted the base, "And I've never seen a table like this without a support here. . ."
Mr. Keno went on to point out a couple more improper features of the poor table. Mr. Garrett seemed as interested in the lesson as Andrew and I. The four of us hovered over it for a few minutes, Andrew and I honored to have the attention of the entire furniture staff for so long.
The conclusion? Andrew's table was about 100 years old, not the 250 years old that its style suggested. Was it an intentional forgery? Unlikely. It was just a good reproduction. Andrew thanked the Kenos and Mr. Garrett and packed up the table, then paused to give his card to one of the Kenos, saying "you know, since this one's not real, I'll be looking for a replacement . . ."
Once outside of the "set" I asked what had happened with the producer, as it was apparent that they'd decided not to film Andrew and his fake table. It couldn't be that it wasn't genuine -- they frequently show disappointments.
"I think it was a lack of shock value," he explained. "I was asking questions that suggested that I knew what I had."
"So you needed to act dumb, but instead you were a sophisticated New Yorker?"
This may seem like a disappointment, but in fact we were amused just to have come so close. And it was really fun to have had such distinguished experts confirm Andrew's suspicions.