Antiques Roadshow Re-Cap 

BW chats up attendees and appraisers at a Boise taping of the TV show

Antiques Roadshow drew thousands to Expo Idaho toting along oddities like this Chinese lion head.

Jessica Murri

Antiques Roadshow drew thousands to Expo Idaho toting along oddities like this Chinese lion head.

In 1962, Hank traveled to Cameroon on a religious mission, where he met the seven-foot-tall king of the Maasai tribe and snapped his picture with a Polaroid camera. The king was apparently so impressed by the square image that emerged from the camera, he gifted the missionary a hand-carved spear, a basket and two large woven wood mats. As a child, Hank's family friend, Bob, sat rapturously in church, listening to tales of Hank's travels.

Now, Bob and his wife, Jan, are in possession of Hank's Maasai trophies, which they piled into a red Radio Flyer wagon and hauled to Expo Idaho June 29 for a taping of PBS's hit TV program Antiques Roadshow. (The show asks that reporters not use last names of attendees to protect their potentially valuable antiques.)

"It's not good feng shui," Jan said, gesturing toward the spear, "so we keep it in the garage."

Jan joked about acting as the "line monitor" while the couple waited for an appraiser to assess their goods, ready to give a gentle poke to anyone who needed to move along or tried to cut.

The line for the event stretched outside the main building, zigzagging through two huge, empty rooms with hundreds of people waiting to reach the appraisal tables. Hardcore antiquers and thrift store aficionados carried dressers, dolls, paintings, tribal art, books, violin cases and grandfather clocks. Antiques Roadshow received 14,827 ticket applications for the 3,000 pairs of free tickets for the Boise event. While some of the 5,000-6,000 folks who showed up were prepared with folding chairs, the rest shifted back and forth on their feet like kids waiting to see Santa.

For Ron and Charlene, it was a really good day. They made the hourlong drive from New Plymouth to Boise, toting along a seasoned saddle, bridle and bit. Ron wore his 10-gallon cowboy hat and a western shirt with pearl snaps, explaining that he doesn't own a shirt without pearl snaps. Hank stuffed his fingers into the pockets of his dark indigo Wranglers and scanned the room.

The couple approached the appraisal table inside the blue-curtained beehive, where several cameras, cranes and boom mics were set up, along with a director's chair. An assortment of crewmembers stood nearby, keeping a vigilant eye on their equipment. Three blue-carpeted sets faced the cameras, each complete with chairs, a table and a little wooden wand used for highlighting features on selected antiques. More than 20 tables surrounded the set, which was lined with appraisers--each devoted to a single category, such as clocks, folk art or musical instruments.

When Ron and Charlene laid down their bridle, an appraiser's eyes lit up.

"This is really rare," he said.

"My father raised horses in the '40s and gave my two brothers and I each a bit," Ron said.

"Have you ever tried to sell it or have it appraised?" he asked.

"No, sir. I had an auctioneer once tell me he would sell it for me, no commission. Said he'd have no trouble selling it," said Ron.

"No shit," the appraiser said. He whisked the couple away to be screened for an on-air interview and a walk onto the prestigious blue carpet.

When asked if he thought he'd end up on TV when the new season of Antique Roadshow airs in January 2014, Ron smiled and said, "You come, and you wonder."

Some of the appraisers at the event seemed as unique as the objects they were appraising. Identical twins Leigh and Leslie Keno are mirror images of each other, save for one's passion for folk art and the other's eye for furniture. At Expo Idaho, one wore a blue tie, while the other wore red. The twins took an interest in antiques around the age of 12, and have both been involved with the Antiques Roadshow since the show's start, 18 years ago. Leigh spoke of his childhood in New York, while Leslie bent down in front of an armoire mirror to sneak a glance at his swept-to-the-side blond hair.

Boisean David, a young face in the sea of antiques, found out that his attic treasure was more like attic trash in the eyes of appraisers. The 33-year-old left Expo Idaho pushing a catering cart with a Chinese lion head on it, the kind that would be found in a Chinese New Year parade. Its green, googly glass eyes bobbed on springs and the horsehair on its lips swayed in the wind.

David found the lion head in the back room of an antique shop several years ago and decided he had to have it. He was on a Kung-Fu movie kick at the time and was working as a pizza delivery driver, so it took him a few weeks to save the $400 to buy it.

"The appraiser said he didn't know the value on it," David said.

"It was a costume from the '70s," appraiser Lark Mason said. "Not a piece of art. I tried to be diplomatic about it, but it wasn't an antique."

Mason wore a colorful silk bow tie and rounded glasses. He, too, has been with the Antiques Roadshow since the beginning.

"I do my best not to crush dreams," Mason said. "People are disappointed, but I try to be sensitive."

As for David, he will take his Chinese lion head back home and hang it up again in his living room. Though Antiques Roadshow's discriminating eyes didn't see value in it, he considers it "priceless."

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