Behind the Scenes at the PBS Antiques RoadShow from Bex Borden

If you’re like me, you love watching the WGBH Antiques RoadShow and wonder what you would bring if you ever got on the show. We all have “something” picked up at a yard sale, bought at auction or passed down through the family.  Well, my mother Dot and I have always been curious about the Chinese Robe she inherited from her aunt in 1980. 

What better platform for appraisal than the WGBH Antiques RoadShow?

In 2019 I applied to the WGBH Antiques Roadshow Boston venue lottery and got accepted! Then COVID hit. I reapplied in May 2021 for a date and venue TBD in New England. I submitted images of the Chinese Robe and was CURATED into the August 10 filming at Wadsworth Mansion in Middletown CT

It is important to note this WGBH Antiques RoadShow venue was BY INVITATION ONLY.  There was no cattle-call. Strict COVID restrictions were in place: curated items meant fewer people; curated items also meant appraisers knew ahead of filming date what was coming.  I could only bring 1 person to help me with my 1 item. I was given the 11:30am slot. I brought my BFF Lisa as my handler and emotional support human. We both had to bring our vaccination cards. (AHEM = GET VACCINATED!!)

I definitely needed help with my 1 item as the framed Chinese Robe is 5ft x 5ft. I rented a van and booked a hotel nearby the night before. There were many emails and health checks leading up to our arrival at 11:15am and, unfortunately, they were already behind schedule.  

There was waiting here. Then waiting there. And then more waiting in over there. Finally we got to wait at an important table. And then there was more waiting. During this time, most of the other participants checked out each other’s items. What do you have? Everyone was very nice, respectful and courteous with one another – we were all in the same boat called “Hurry Up & Wait.”

I was reminded of something Craig Kimberley shared with me while on Yankee Fleet. He did a fishing shoot down in Florida, they had no action for 3 days. Dead calm and it was miserable. Once the fish started striking, it was like all that lost time was {forgotten}. Game on! Catch ‘em up!  Well, something similar happened to me at the WGBH Antiques RoadShow

My item finally came up for staging. My item was one of the largest items I saw that day and was framed in plexiglass. The filming crew needed an extra large easel with sandbags but the plexi caused numerous reflections from the stage, equipment, lighting and 3 cameras. The crew took the utmost care to make sure my item looked as perfect as possible. They worked with minimal words, as any well-coordinated team does. Those film crews make the magic of the WGBH Antiques Roadshow come to life on TV.  And I had the A-team.

Before filming started, the crew asked BFF Lisa where we were from. She responded proudly, “Glosta!” One crew guy said, “Hey! I am from Peabody! Formerly from Beverly!” Another replied, “I am moving to Glosta in September!” And just like that we saw each other as locals.

A word about the appraiser of my item: he was magnificent.  He answered all my questions about the Chinese Robe and gave me so much more detail about its origin, usage, design and symbols.  I asked if he was appraising other items that day. 

“No, I just came down for this one.” 

He has a house in Gloucester, and lives here part-time.

PBS will produce this Antiques Roadshow venue into three (3), 1-hour episodes which I was told will air in September 2022.

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