Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Birmingham Bound: Road to Roadshow Part Three (THE GOODS)

Hello there!

Sorry for the delay in today's post, I've been feeling super run down all morning and debated whether or not to leave my usual "Closed For Business" type illness post. However, as you can see, lunchtime has rallied my spirits a little bit, and I know you want to know what I took with me to the Antiques Roadshow taping! Competition among my items was stiff, but I finally settled on four. Let's take a look at what they were!

Voilà, my quartet of goodies. I think it's hilarious they look like something out of a staged magazine shoot in terms of how the faded teens' and twenties' coloring is so similar. What we've got, from left to right:
  1. 1917-1918 Girl's Commencement book scrapbook, featuring photographs, ephemera, inscriptions from a girl's WWI-era senior year of high school
  2. WWI Sweetheart Souvenir Handkerchief
  3. Christian Dior by Kramer pavé rhinestone penguin brooch, circa 1950
  4. A flapper doll from the Virgin Islands, circa 1920's

So, in reverse order, here's what they told me about my stuff:

1) Flapper Doll

This was the first thing we had appraised, and I was confused as heck at this point as to how the whole appraisal process went down. The bow-tied man behind the folding table welcomed me and asked me what I could tell him about the item (which seems to be a standard opening for every appraisal, as I was asked the same another three times). I told him that I'd bought the doll at an estate sale where the woman had a large collection of vintage and antique dolls from her travels, and this one had caught my eye because of its size (it's a good twelve inches tall, compared to the other, smaller dolls at the sale) and its flapper style. I pointed out the different materials and the fact that the owner had pinned a piece of paper with "Virgin Islands" written on it to the gal's dress, and the appraiser said, "Yes, I thought when you brought it in it was typical of the Virgin Islands. What's interesting about this doll is that most of the souvenir dolls coming out of the Virgin Islands in the 1920's were made to depict native people-- which is to say that they were black. It's a little rarer to find one that's white." He turned it over in his hands and examined it with birdlike quizzical intensity, before asking how much I paid for it. "I think it was $15?" I stammered. "Well done, I would say this doll is worth every bit of twenty or twenty five dollars." I was let down, but not for the reason I think he thought I was-- I really just wanted to know anything else he could tell me about the item besides what I already knew! Ah, well. We went back to the outer circle and chose another line to wait in. 

Isn't she pretty, though? I love the little handkerchief stitched into her hand and her rouged cheeks.

2) Christian Dior by Kramer pin

A friend of mine gave me a bunch of costume jewelry that had belonged to her fiancé's grandmother a year or two ago, and I about fell out of my chair getting a load of this crazy thing. While there were some fun earrings and a necklace or two I liked in the ziplock baggie, this pin stuck out as something special to me at once. When I got it home, trying to figure out how I could solder a new pin back on the brooch myself, I noticed a circular jeweler's mark on the back that read "CHRISTIAN DIOR BY KRAMER" and was thrilled all over again-- this was a piece made by the high quality costume jewelry firm Kramer to accessorize the "New Look" early fifties' items coming out of the Parisian atelier. While not as fine as the jewelry from Dior itself, I mean...look at this design. It's crazy in exactly the right way. I don't think I've ever been given something just out of the blue that I like as much as I like this pin! I ended up getting the pin back professionally replaced and I wear it with pride whenever I want a little extra "wow" to my outfit.

At the appraisal, the guy at the booth told me pretty much what I told you, which I did already know, but he seemed particularly charmed by the design. He said there were some stones missing from the tail, which probably would have also been red. The real wild card from this appraisal--one of the appraisers behind the booth actually interrupted this interaction to say, "I just LOVE, I LOVE your outfit. You have such a fun sense of style! Do you mind if I take your picture?" Ok, I was already like "WHERE AM I, WHAT AM I DOING?" and now someone wants to photograph me in this bewildered state. I acquiesced, and her colleague was like "Do you want me to move?" She: "No, no, you can go on with the appraisal, I'll just snap a couple pictures." I was flattered but it was also confusing for this bashful belle. So somewhere, a friendly lady jewelry appraiser has a photo on her iPhone of me in my little Boy George hat and winged eyeliner looking dazed. That was what I took away from that table's appraisal, haha.

And back out we went again to wait in another line!

3) Souvenir de France sweetheart handkerchief, WWI:

I did a whole post on this handkerchief back in May, so I won't talk your ear off about it, but I felt like this appraisal was by far the best as the appraiser really took a moment or two to go over what it was and what he thought about it as an antiques guy. He confirmed what I knew about  it being a WWI souvenir sent home or brought back by a soldier in France for his mother, girlfriend, grandma, somebody-- but also told me that it would have been hand embroidered, not made by machine, and embroidered on silk, which makes it different from machine-made, rayon embroidered trinkets of a similar nature from the Second World War. "Isn't this great," he said, "You've got the Statue of Liberty there off the coast of Manhattan, but what's interesting to me is how contextual it is. If you had that little squiggle just by itself, you wouldn't even be able to make out what it was, but here in its proper context, you can tell it's a major and familiar landmark." I asked him about the shattering in the background, feeling like that was probably something that would affect the value or "goodness" of the piece, but he reassured me that because the item was silk and almost a hundred years old, hardly any of them survived, so to have one at all was really neat. How about this, value wise, too? He asked how much I paid for it and I told him $30; he said that without the frame, just the handkerchief, it was worth about $60, and in the frame, that number could double or triple depending on the collector's interest in it. THIS collector was very pleased not to have been snookered in the thirty dollars I put out for it!

And for the home stretch:

4) 1917-1918 Girl's Commencement book scrapbook

I honestly can't believe I haven't shown you guys this on the blog yet, it's one of the things in my house I would grab if God forbid the building was on fire. I had just graduated from high school in 2003 and my dad (ever the accomplice in my collecting habits) took me to Rare Bird Antique Mall in Goodletsville to spend some of the loot I'd gotten in my graduation cards. I remember feeling quite queenly with a hundred dollars to spend-- I'd put some money from family and friends away, and good Lord, a hunnert bucks was about $92 more than I ever had on me at any point in time. I had, just the week before, flapper bobbed my hair to my jawbone in a fit of love for Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and I was in the midst of a serious, scholarly crush on the life and works of the Jazz Age icons. You can imagine the "whuh....whuh..." sputtering sense of awe I was in when I found this scrapbook from Minneapolis, Minnesota in year of our Lord 1917, in a booth for $40.

The author, sharing a home state with FSF, I might add, was a tall, Germanic looking girl (sound like anyone you know?) named Grace Peterson. This journal so closely resembled  my own scrapbooks and notebooks I had kept meticulously in middle and high school, with cheeky notation and photographs and every little scrap of a 17 year old girl's life carefully pasted in-- I really couldn't believe my luck. As the US entered into First World War, Grace's newspaper clippings and photographs reflected star members of the basketball and track team joining up, War Bonds drives taking place at the school, and visits to dances on a local Army base. IT WAS PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR. I was loathe to part with the forty bucks, but to this day, it's one  of the coolest things I've found in my junking days, and you can re and re read the inscriptions, pore back over the photos, for hours.

The Collectibles line was by far the longest we waited in, and while we almost wanted to just go get our Subaru swag and go back to the hotel to eat vegan pizza, instead, we went the distance. The guy in front of me was driving me absolutely insane with his nonstop chatter to his wife about how the dobro he'd brought was from 1935, and worth $6,000, then mentally tallying up and loudly repeating how much whatever else he'd brought was worth, then calling people to tell them about it, then talking to the people ahead of him about how much their barber chair was probably worth ("WITH the headrest of course") because he "knew a bunch of barbers, and a little bit about collectibles" blah blah blah blah. All the while dressed in that hipster uniform of  beard and "What Opie Taylor would wear if he was 5'8'', 32 years old, and slightly overweight" (checked collar shirt, pegged jeans, Chuck Taylors). I know I'm being mean but it was like Chinese Water Torture listening to him talk. FOR AN HOUR. At the end of the line, mercifully, the appraiser was nice enough, but I'm pretty sure he was vigorously flipping through the book hoping my Grace Peterson had gotten Douglas Fairbanks, Sr's autograph, or had her picture taken with Woodrow Wilson. No such luck! He did put an auction value of $150-$200 on it, which sounds a little on the high end, but heck! I'm just glad he didn't say $15-$20!

So! That was it for the Roadshow. I think next time I would try to take something I actually thought was valuable, rather than something I wanted to know more about, to up my chances of beeeein' on the teeee-veee! I am really excited to see what the items in that inner inner circle were like and how close I probably was to some real American treasures.

What do you think of what I ended up choosing? What would you have taken with you if you were on the Roadshow? What's the best or worst info you've ever found out about a piece you bought after the fact? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I hope you have a great evening, and we'll talk more tomorrow! Take care, til then.


  1. I love the scrapbook! I too am more interested in the info than the value. I happen to have several of my grandmothers' scrapbooks, from about the same time periods.

  2. Oh lucky you! Glad you had your adventure, someone took your photo, and found out about that lovely pin etc. What would I bring? a hand blown swirly pink/white vase, signed on bottom I guess. and a round wooden container with inlays in it. My Beatles harmonica, and big pin of them from maybe 64.? I don't have much.

  3. I thought the handkerchief was my favorite, but I love that scrapbook! I wish you got more info, but honestly you're so good at researching this stuff yourself I'm not surprised you didn't learn much. I also wish I could've seen you on the TV! Maybe next time :) Sounds like you'll just have to keep shopping till you find a piece up to television standards (i.e. it's worth 1000X more than you paid for it).

  4. What an experience! That book is just charming and delightful! It reminds me very much of how I used to scrapbook (or "photo journaling" as I called it!)


  5. I love that brooch! I think you should post about just jewelry one day. I'm kind of a jewelry fanatic, lol!

  6. Well, you may not have brought the most "valuable" items you have collected to the show nor even end up on the show after the final edits are completed. However, your fans find you and your remarkable blog to be priceless. Thank you for this three part series. We can all feel like we were at a show without the commentaries given by others on cell phones!



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