Brains + Lips = Win the Antiques Roadshow Game

The Antiques Roadshow website has a game you can play. You watch a little video segment. Along the way are multiple choice questions regarding the item (like “Who is Thomas Chippendale?”) And finally, can you guess the price before the appraiser calls it? Thanks to 16 years of fine and decorative art study, I managed the multiple choice questions pretty well. The appraised values, however, weren’t quite so easy. My timing was off. The objective is to “beat the appraiser.” I contend that the roadshow appraiser knows so much more about the item, having researched the bejesus out of it, there’s no way I can beat him. Drew’s better at this than I am.This brings me to the BIG Antiques Roadshow FALLACY. The Roadshow Appraiser not only sees the item before he goes on television, he has the benefit of exhaustive research, executed by a team of appraisers with computers, libraries, sales results, and everything there is to know about the item including history and provenance. Sometimes AR knows about a piece before they even get into town!

We get a lot of referrals from the Antiques Roadshow for which we are grateful. But, because of this BIG FALLACY, some people think appraisers just know this stuff and can spout spontaneously. Some find it hard to believe that an appraiser doesn’t know everything there is to know about everything. Oh, some appraisers (I live with one) have enormous brains,

indeed, as well as the ability to recall the data and use their lips

at the same time. But, mostly, appraising is all about honing one’s connoisseurship skills, studying items, mediums, artists, makers and history AND researching comparables and sales results. Just so’s you know, it’s not spontaneous.
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