My recap of our Antiques Roadshow adventure is nearing its end. If you missed any of my previous posts, here is a little summary:
We were selected to attend the Antiques Roadshow tour stop in Omaha, Nebraska on June 27th. If you would like to read the synopsis of our item selection, you may do so here.
We headed to Nebraska the day before the Roadshow event was to begin. If you are interested in reading a little about our trip and our first two appraisals, you can follow me here!
Our day at the Roadshow continued with the appraisal of our three paintings and a 1,000 year old Costa Rican bowl. To hear the details, check out this post.
Now I am thrilled to give you a taste of our best moment of the entire weekend. As I mentioned previously, our first stop on Antiques Roadshow premises was a pre-appraisal table, where we received a specific ticket for each of our items. Many pre-appraisals are straightforward, but some items could easily be placed in multiple categories. Our Civil War letters were given an “Arms and Militaria” ticket and our prints received a “Prints and Posters” ticket. We knew ahead of time that one of our items would throw the ticket-givers for a loop. We were right.
Along with our other items, we brought two notebooks full of composite sketches of suspected criminals from the Reno Police Department. The sketches were created by a well-known composite artist, Harlan Embrey, who lived from 1924 to 1997. Embry was highly regarded in his trade, and was often “loaned out” to other jurisdictions and agencies. He spent time working for various police departments and sheriff's offices, as well as for the FBI and DEA. Each drawing includes the corresponding case number. We knew that at least one case in the notebooks was extremely high profile, and still has a cult-like following (See more about the Keddie murders here).
I pulled one of our composite sketch notebooks out of the box and set it on the table. I began to describe what was inside, leafing through the pages so the two women at the table could see the drawings. One of the women behind the table stared for a moment before saying anything. I was worried that she was going to say, “that item doesn’t really have a place here.” Thankfully, that isn’t what happened. She discussed the notebooks with us and soon pulled in her colleague for consultation. Both women were intrigued, but unsure of where to send us with our notebooks. One said, “I sure wish we could send them straight to Colleene.” to which the other responded, “Oh, Colleene would love these!” We asked who this “Colleene” was and were told that she was one of the appraisers of Paintings and Drawings. They went on to tell us that Colleene had just been standing at that very table with them moments before. As strong as their desire was to walk us straight back to Colleene, they simply could not. That isn’t how the system works. We had to take our ticket, and our appraiser would be selected at random. I suggested that they give us a Paintings and Drawings ticket and I would start yelling for Colleene when we made it to the tables. They laughed but gave me a “please don’t” look. They handed us our final ticket to the Paintings and Drawings category and wished us luck.
We headed back toward the appraisal lines, unsure of which item to present first. The Prints and Posters line was rather long, so we decided to check out Paintings and Drawings. We couldn’t believe it when we rounded the corner and there was no line. This fact alone was very unusual, especially at that time of day. We were guided straight to the table where the appraisers were seated. Of the three seated, only one appraiser was currently available. I hadn’t ever seen her before. I approached her and said, “Would you happen to be Colleene?” She gave me a curious look before replying, “Yes, I am.” My insides began to tingle a little.
“Colleene” was actually Colleene Fesko from Boston, Massachusetts. She is a fine art and antiques appraiser and broker. She has recently worked as a consultant with Christie’s American Painting Department. Christie’s!
I pulled out one of the notebooks and, once again, presented the story of our composite sketches. She stared slack-jawed as a slowly flipped through the drawings. After a few moments of silence, Colleene looked up at us and said, “Who told you that I would like these?” We mentioned the two ladies at table number one and she smiled. The appraiser next to her (who had taken notice of our notebooks and started listening in) said, “It’s nice to have friends, isn’t it?” Colleene continued to look through each drawing page by page. She would occasionally look up and say, “This is really cool.” A few times she looked up at us and just shook her head. When I pulled out our second notebook, her eyes got a little bigger. She had started looking through the second notebook when she looked up and said, “How would you like to talk about this on TV?” Those tingly feelings began to feel more like small explosions beneath my skin. She went on to say, “There are about a million and a half reasons that they would tell us ‘no’ but I’d like to try. These should be seen.” We agreed, and were taken around the corner to wait for our turn with the producers.
We were seated just outside the ring of appraisers, where those items being considered for filming waited with their owners. My dad and I used our time in the chairs to admire the items around us, and discuss our plan of action. We thought that he should be the one to present the items, since he was more knowledgeable than I. As we waited, the first couple that I met when I walked in the door that morning sat down next to us. I had taken their picture as they stood in line so they could share the experience with their daughter via phone. I was excited to see them again, and asked which of their items was being considered for filming. They pulled out their own notebook, which was full of pictures taken by actual astronauts while they walked on the moon! How cool is that?! One of the pictures was a selfie of sorts with an astronaut holding an American flag. The sight of that picture made my history-loving heart go pitter patter. Their appraiser came back with a producer first, so we were able to listen in as they told their story. I was genuinely thrilled when they were selected for filming. I congratulated them as they were led back to the green room for makeup and refreshments. The couple lives in Jefferson City, and I regret now not writing down their contact information. I hope to reconnect with them at some point, and look forward to seeing them on Antiques Roadshow!
A short while later, Colleen Fesko came back over with producer Jill Giles and two Roadshow crew members. We again presented the story of our composite sketches to which Jill Giles replied, “These are creepy!” As strange as she found them, it was obvious that she too was intrigued. She mentioned that she was nervous about the sticker in the front of the book: “Evidence. Property of the Reno Police Department. Do not remove.”
Dad and I were asked to sit tight while the producer, crew members and appraiser met to discuss our item. They talked for quite a while, and I heard Jill Giles call for an additional person on their headset radio. A man in a green Roadshow polo shirt emerged, and they continued to discuss the sketches. They soon finished their discussion, and walked back toward us. The producer sat down next to dad and broke the news. “I don’t think we can do it. As much as we want to, we just can’t.” She told us that the man in the green polo shirt was an Omaha police officer who was of the opinion that, though we purchased them legally, it is possible our ownership would still be questioned. “We really wish that we could film these, but we want you to be able to keep them.” I mentioned that if that did happen, it would only create a better story. They laughed, but weren’t convinced.
The producer and crew members went on to their next discovery, and Colleen Fesko took a seat next to us. She shook her head and smiled. “I so would have loved to do this on TV but I will give you an appraisal now.” She called the drawings “outsider art”. She said that, in a way, they were deeper and more personal than “normal” art. They were drawings of an actual person who had, in many cases, been accused of a horrible crime. She mentioned that we may not ever be able to sell them (or might get in trouble if we tried) if they truly are still meant to be in the hands of the police department. If we did sell them, she recommended that we take them to an outsider art gallery with a price tag of $100 per sketch. Beyond that, Colleen looked at us with the biggest smile and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing these. You have made my day.”
Honestly, it would have been a lot of fun to share our sketches with the world via television, and it may have even been a boost for business. But making the day of an appraiser - one who has probably seen it all - made our day, too.
Paid: $90 at an antique mall
Appraised Value: With 105 sketches at $100 per sketch the total appraised value of $10,500
UPDATE: You can read what we learned from our trip to Antiques Roadshow in this post.
Frankly, I am not fond of monkeys. They affect me the way spiders and snakes affect other people. The flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz” and the rogue monkeys in Robin Williams’s “Jumanji” were menacing to me, and I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see them.