Crowds roll in for 'Antiques Roadshow'
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By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Will Hoover
Judging by the mass of hidden treasures that turned up at the Hawai'i Convention Center yesterday, Island attics and garages have been stripped bare.
Some 7,000 ticket holders — clutching musty heirlooms or doohickeys large and small, all from a bygone era — were drawn by "Antiques Roadshow," the most popular series on PBS.
Some were disappointed to learn that their treasures were fakes, worth a few bucks. A few were delighted to find out that what they held was worth even more than they had dreamed.
But the possessions and their keepers started the day doing what residents of the 50th state do better than folks anywhere else:
Wait in line.
They were patient because they had waited a long time for "Antiques Roadshow."
"We tried to come to Hawai'i two different times," said the show's stage manager, Ron Milton, who's been with the series since its inception, and like others affiliated with the program, owns no antiques.
"This is the third time. We didn't believe it. But we're here now. So it's real."
It's a big production, said Marsha Bemko, executive producer of the show for WGBH in Boston. Getting it from Boston to Hawai'i is like flying in everything for a major rock concert.
Bemko said the three episodes filmed yesterday could kick off the series next season.
"There's a good chance of that," said Bemko. "The best way for people here to check to know for sure when the episodes will air is to go to pbs.org/antiques. The day we know, we post it on our Web site."
Lacene Terri, director of community relations for PBS Hawai'i, described the Roadshow crew as a "well-oiled machine."
With so many people milling around, the confusion seemed capable of flinging out of control. And yet, as dozens of folks crowded around the tables of some 75 appraisers, the film crew focused their cameras on three tables in the middle of it all.
"When the appraisers determine that something is worthy for television, they flag down one of the producers, and then they are sent off to the green room for makeup," explained Terri.
Folks such as Bob Kilthau who are lucky enough to make the cut stand a chance of being one of 15 to 20 people featured on the antique appraisal segments on each program.
Standing before the cameras, appraiser Todd Weyman of Swann Auction Galleries of New York City examined Kilthau's Jean Charlot artwork.
"This is a pastel drawing by Jean Charlot that was a study for the statue (of a Hawaiian warrior) that's outside the Ala Moana Hotel that was done in the 1970s," said Weyman.
Kilthau, who wasn't sure what the work might be worth, had paid $1,000 for the drawing in 1991. Weyman said it would fetch $5,000 to $8,000 at auction.
Kilthau was pleasantly surprised.
But for every Kilthau there were dozens of item holders such as Mike Correale, who carefully handed his 1864 Springfield rifle to appraiser Paul Carella, with Bonhams & Butterfield of San Francisco.
"They were made in great quantity in the Civil War," sniffed Carella, who informed Correale that the rifle had been cleaned — apparently not a good thing — and that its barrel had been cut short.
"If I had this at auction, I would say it might — might! — bring $200."
Correale accepted the verdict stoically and promptly headed off to the furniture appraisal table.
"I've got this Windsor back chair. I think that's what they call it," he said, holding what looked like something Abe Lincoln sat in while eating lunch. "Like the rifle, it's from my grandparents in New Jersey. I don't know if it's really an antique. I guess I'll find out."
And for every Correale there were tens of dozens of antique hopefuls still waiting in line outside the production area.
Sandra Worsham of Hawai'i Kai stood in the longest appraisal line — more than 200 people long — waiting to get to the Asian art table.
Her artifact was an Asian pitcher with fancy filigree that she had a hunch might be valuable. Her hopes, but not her spirit, were dampened when another woman walked by with an identical pitcher.
Still, she thought, the other pitcher might be a replica.
Much later, after winding her way to the Asian art appraisers, Worsham reported the outcome.
"They said they get about 10 of those at every 'Roadshow,' " she said with a giggle of resignation. "It actually came from Italy. They said there was an artist who kind of forged this thing to look Chinese, and the writing inside wasn't even Chinese."
The pitcher's value at auction? Fifty bucks.
Worsham said she would gladly sell it to anyone interested for three times that. Otherwise, the thing stays in the family.
Reach Will Hoover at email@example.com.