TV’s “Antiques Roadshow” Discovers Treasure
at Gilmore Car Museum
Each summer, camera crews from the popular PBS television series Antiques Roadshow barnstorm a half dozen American cities seeking out hidden treasures. That’s exactly what they found at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI, where producers highlighted rare Lalique crystal car hood ornaments (also known as mascots).
On Saturday, August 9th, the Antiques Roadshow production crew and seventy experts were busy filming and appraising submitted antiques in Grand Rapids, MI for episodes during its 13th season.
Before the cameras rolled in Grand Rapids, series Host Mark L. Walberg, Eric Silver (a leading specialist in American and European decorative arts and sculpture), and a full production crew visited the Gilmore Car Museum. Renowned for its collection of over 200 extraordinary automobiles, the Museum also possesses one of the nation’s largest collections of automotive hood ornaments (known as mascots) on public display. With over 1,600 mascots, ranging from the fanciful to rare, it was difficult to narrow it down to a select few for the broadcast.
“They’re all works of art,” Silver explained on camera, “with some produced by the automaker and others available aftermarket.”
The Antiques Roadshow crew spent over eight hours filming at the Gilmore Car Museum and focused on mascots produced by Rolls Royce, Lincoln, and Pierce-Arrow, as well as some rare Lalique crystal hood ornaments.
Museum guests, while surprised to see the popular Antiques Roadshow program filming, watched the taping with excitement. When the cameras stopped, Leslie Decker of nearby Kalamazoo quietly mentioned to friends how she had requested tickets for Roadshow months before but had not been selected. Overhearing the conversation, Host Mark Walberg then presented Decker with a pair tickets for Saturday’s Grand Rapids taping.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Decker said as she stood next to Walberg for a photo. “I am so shocked and thrilled, thank you!”
In each city Antiques Roadshow selects for taping, several thousand people vie for the opportunity to have their antiques examined by experts in hopes it will receive a favorable appraisal and be chosen for the broadcast. The show’s host, veteran television personality Mark L. Walberg, accompanies a noted expert to visit nearby historic sites and extraordinary collections to tape segments as a highlight for each episode.
A record 27,000 ticket requests were received to attend the Grand Rapids show, and according to Segment Producer Sarah Elliott, a random drawing provided 3,400 people with tickets, permitting them to each bring two items for appraisal. Those receiving tickets traveled from throughout the Midwest and as far away as Florida and North Carolina for the chance to have their treasures selected for an upcoming episode.
Antiques Roadshow has received five Emmy nominations and is PBS's highest-rated series with a viewership of almost 11 million viewers each week. Senior Publicist Judy Matthews describes the show as “part adventure, part history lesson, and part treasure hunt.”
In each hour-long episode, specialists from some of the world’s leading auction houses—such as Bonhams and Butterfields, Christie's, Heritage, and Sotheby's—as well as independent dealers from across the nation offer free appraisals of antiques and collectibles. The Roadshow cameras capture the tales of family heirlooms, yard sale bargains, and long-lost items salvaged from attics and basements, while the experts reveal the fascinating truths about these finds.
Filming also took place at three west Michigan museums—The Holland Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, and Gilmore Car Museum—for segments that, Matthews explains, will be considered for inclusion within three planned Grand Rapids episodes.
The 13th season of Antiques Roadshow premiers January 5, 2009 on PBS, with the episode featuring the Gilmore Car Museum’s mascot footage soon to be announced.
So, what value did Roadshow expert Eric Silver place on the Gilmore Museum’s “excellent early example of Tireur d'arc (Archer) crystal mascot” signed ‘R. Lalique / France’ with its original working Breves Galleries illuminating base? You’ll just have to tune in for next season’s of Antiques Roadshow to find out.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is produced for PBS by WGBH Boston. Executive producer is Marsha Bemko.
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ANTIQUES ROADSHOW press materials, including downloadable photos, are available at pressroom.wgbh.org and www.pbs.org/pressroom.