behind the scenes of antiques road show

Attending The Antiques Roadshow

behind the scenes of the antiques roadshow in Sacramento

Earlier this week I was back home in Northern California to take my parents to the PBS Antiques Roadshow. This was such an exciting opportunity since I grew watching the show and I had missed the Phoenix show due to my traveling. When PBS shared additional travel locations and I saw Sacramento on the list, I called my dad to see if they wanted to attend and with an excited, “Oh, yes!” I immediately booked a flight home to take my parents with me on a behind the scenes media tour. I am certain this secures my position as the favorite child (I’m just 1 of 2, first born).

Tickets to attend the show are distributed early on when the show announces they are going on tour – and the die hard fans watch the travel schedule and apply to be entered in a lottery system to land a pair of tickets. Some fans apply to all the stops around the country in hopes to get their precious items appraised and possibly be on TV!

I grew up watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS, like many my age. It seems as though many of you have either watched it or introduced your children to it as well! Kudos, for being a cultured antique lover – haha! I just think of the chime sound on the show when appraisers just finished telling the history and the price of the item to the owner, it’s just magical sounding like Tinkerbell.

My parents have had some items back home they thought had value, as was told to them through stories as the items were passed down – isn’t that how we all hear about family valuables?  Come along with me and find out if they were actually worth what my parents were told! We were blessed to be able to attend this highly coveted event and share it with you.

Arriving at the Antiques Roadshow

We arrived at 8:30 am, a scheduled time and there was so much buzzing excitement in the air. People were carrying artwork, items resembling something you saw displayed at your grandma’s house, or perhaps at a neighbor’s garage sale, but are these perhaps treasures? What are the stories? Isn’t that the excitement of The Antiques Roadshow and what viewers and fans love about the show?

behind the scenes of antiques road show

Approximately 22,000 individuals entered a lottery system from around the country to secure one of the 2,000 pairs of tickets for the Sacramento show.

That means 4,000 people attended bringing with them up to two items per person that could be appraised that day with volunteer appraisers, experts in specific categories. That means up to 8,000 items all day!

Attendees in triage to show items belonging to a category to find their appraisal table

Fans come from across the country for the opportunity to bring their antiques with stories, and find out of they are worth anything in value – and if it has big value, have the once in a lifetime chance to be featured on an episode of Antiques Roadshow for the 2020 season.

line of antiques roadshow attendees

Those who won a lucky pair of ticket were given an assigned time to show up and made their way to the triage table where they were given tags where to head next – either patio or upstairs in the Crocker Museum to meet an appraisal expert for the items brought in.

Check in antiques roadshow Sacramento

There are rules on what can or cannot be brought and how the items can be transported. This avoids oversized items – unless it’s furniture and is brought in ahead of time with approval.

Check out the common categories and what they see often at the Roadshow here. You may find things that you already own in your house and you can find out the value – these are items typically seen at the Antiques Roadshow and valued under $500 most shown are $100.

What my parents brought to get appraised

Let’s talk about what my parents brought to the show. These family treasures that have been sitting in the China cabinet for quite some time, I remember seeing them for a long time growing up –

I took these photos just to share on the blog. I also took a photo of a huge wine jug my mom said was really important and a gift to the family and recall her saying something about it really old – it was from my dad’s side.

So dad didn’t want to bring it because of how difficult it would be, so we took photos and we didn’t move it from it’s spot because it’s very heavy.  Pardon the terrible lighting but it was in the middle of the room and all we had was dining room light and then I added my iPhone light so it’s mixed horrible light.

Here’s my dad explaining it and showing it that I posted on IG stories –


The mysterious green wine jug


I took these images similar to what you see here, and I tell my dad, “Ok, Dad, lift up the bottom so I can take a photo of the stamp on the bottom.”

He lifts it up and it says in all CAPS in red block letters – “CHINA” I am instantly sure its value is nothing what my parents thought. My dad is in disbelief and we start laughing uncontrollably. He’s like, “Are you kidding me?” And I take a photo anyway just to show him.  He prints it out anyway to bring just incase but he refuses to print out the “CHINA” image form the bottom partly in denial and also possibly wondering if he can pull a fast one. Haha!

At the appraisal table

First item up. This is often where you see footage on the show. My dad met with Lark E. Mason, a former Senior VP with Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art Department and author of the book Asian Art.

My dad recognized him, and saw him on a new episode of the show later that night and was so excited. My mom also fan girled another appraiser woman who was next to Lars (photo below) and shook her hand.

behind the scenes of the antiques roadshow taping in Sacramento California

I pushed the wrong button and turned the camera off instead of taking a photo, oops, even happens to the best of us with a point and shoot. But I got this cute laughter shot.

And here’s Mr. Mason looking at what my parents brought in.

behind the scenes of the Sacramento antiques roadshow art appraisal with asian art

Verdict, the tea pots are post WWII creations, replicas of ancient ones, value around $150. I think he said like $150-$250 but I already forgot. I’m turning into an antique myself. It wasn’t anything super significant and though it looked old, it wasn’t anything ancient, it was a replica of the true antiques.

Hmph. Dad wasn’t thrilled, kinda disappointed because my mom said a man had once offered her $5,000 for her Japanese dragon tea set (the orange and white). That value, $150. I told her to find that guy and see if he wants it for $5,000 after all, we now realize value is in the eye of the beholder if the antique market value sucks, haha.

Now, wait, what about that green jug in the photo? The one my dad thought was very important? Well, he showed Mr. Mason the image. Dad proceeds to say it’s stamped “CHINA” on the bottom, but that wasn’t important, Mr. Mason already knew what he was looking at.

He said he’s seen many of them and didn’t even give us a value because there really isn’t one and it was mass produced (he didn’t say that, we just noticed that because he told us it wasn’t an antique). Then we just laughed some more about how stories get passed down from family insisting there’s value in things only to find they aren’t. I told dad to makes sure that is in the trust for my brother, it’s his.

I was told that we made out pretty good in comparison to most attendees. I mean to get something pretty high value isn’t common, let’s think about that. We can buy things around us and that might cost X at the store but does that mean that’s actually valued at that price?

But the story isn’t over. Dad had another item he brought appraised.

behind the scenes Crocker art museum antiques roadshow

behind the scenes Crocker art museum antiques roadshow furniture and artwork

Furniture and artwork appraisal tables at the Antiques Roadshow in Sacramento

And so, we headed to the instruments appraisal table! I wish my dad took off his jacket because he had his ukulele shirt on and it was so dang cute.

getting something appraised at the antiques roadshow Sacramento

getting something appraised at the antiques roadshow Sacramento
getting something appraised at the antiques roadshow Sacramento

Mr. Johnston took such sweet time meeting with my dad about the ukulele that had belonged to his dad. He then hopped on his computer to check out a few facts. He asked my dad questions and said that there was a tour in Hawaii that used to include ukuleles as a gift and he wanted to see if that would’ve been the case.

Dad’s Hawaiian ukulele that belonged to his dad was appraised at $350, and so he was pretty happy about that.

Then, my parents packed their things away a little less cautiously since they found little value in them (except for the ukulele), and we headed out and they filmed a short little feedback video for fun. Now that’s a chance to still be featured on an episode at the end!

How to get on an Antiques Roadshow episode

Now you’re wondering, how does one get on TV? Must you have an incredible antique? Yes and no.

The appraiser has to find something either teachable (like it can be of little value) or it can be something amazing. They call over the crew and they pitch why the product should be showcased, then they call the producer over and the producers decides yes or no. Then they film! Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean it will 100% be in the final cut but that’s how works! The person who owns the item doesn’t know the value until is actually said on TV so you are seeing their actual expression hearing it for the first time.

On our way home, I began to question – how many of us can bring anything to the show and find incredible true value of an ancient antique? I mean not many right? And so this means we just continue to fill our homes with things we love, enjoy, and like to look at it.

Sentimental value still has value.

I will always insist adding antiques to your home. Antiques truly can make a house feel warm, personal, and if you fancy the southern decor like I do, antiques certainly give a beautifully lived in look. An item that has been loved by many, passed along, filled with stories is such a treasure, and as many say, they just don’t make them like they used to! If you don’t have family heirlooms, find treasures at an antique store and make them yours. Or, start finding sweet artisan items while you travel abroad.

What an incredible experience! Of course one hopes you attend and find that an item you own is worth thousands but it’s all about the thrill of finding out. There is so much excitement and wonderful to be around fellow antique lovers, collectors and fans of the show. My parents and I has an amazing time. Thank you to PBS for having us, we had a memorable time.

Check out the actual video and stories while I was at the Antiques Roadshow here – there’s nothing like video!

Air dates for Sacramento:

  • February 17, 2020: Crocker Art Museum, Hour 1
  • February 24, 2020: Crocker Art Museum, Hour 2
  • March 16, 2020: Crocker Art Museum, Hour 3

Phoenix episodes are airing:

  • March 23, 2020: Desert Botanical Garden, Hour 1
  • March 30, 2020: Desert Botanical Garden, Hour 2
  • April 13, 2020: Desert Botanical Garden, Hour 3

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.


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