11 Authenticated Facts About Antiques Roadshow

Appraiser Francis J. Wahlgren (R) examines a photograph inscribed by Abraham Lincoln on Antiques Roadshow.
Appraiser Francis J. Wahlgren (R) examines a photograph inscribed by Abraham Lincoln on Antiques Roadshow.
Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WBGH, © WBGH 2018

Even people who might not normally tune in to the serene programming on PBS are fans of Antiques Roadshow, the long-running (22 years and counting) series that allows people with puzzling collectibles and family heirlooms to solicit expert advice on their historical and monetary value. More than 8 million people watch the show weekly. For more on the series, including the chances of getting on air, banned clothing, and the most valuable item to ever be featured, keep reading.

1. Antiques Roadshow was inspired by a BBC show of the same name.

Before the American version of Antiques Roadshow debuted in 1997, a BBC version had been airing in the UK since 1979. In 1981, a film investor named Dan Farrell decided to buy the North American rights to the format in perpetuity. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any takers for roughly 14 years, with American television producers fearing the concept of antiquities would have too narrow an audience. Eventually, Boston PBS affiliate WGBH and producer Peter McGhee decided to work with Farrell and the BBC and adopt the format for American audiences. The first taping attracted only a few hundred people. But word soon spread. By the second show, police had to direct congested traffic.

2. The chances of appearing on Antiques Roadshow are slim.

Antiques Roadshow appraiser Leila Dunbar (L) examines a Randy Gumbert baseball uniform.Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

Antiques Roadshow visits six cities per year for tapings in June, July, and August. At each event, organizers see anywhere from 6000 to 10,000 items, from upwards of 4000 people selected in a random drawing from a pool of applicants for the free tickets online. (Each ticket holder can bring two objects for review.) Of those, roughly 80 are selected for inclusion in episodes featuring that city. (As of 2019, the average was about 30 items per episode from a pool of 5000 pieces.) Items stand the best chance of getting airtime if the history of the item is intriguing, the owner’s story is captivating, and the appraiser has something to add. Unlike a lot of reality programming, there’s no group of producers deciding which content should make it to air. Appraisers typically listen to stories and then petition producers to feature the items they think would make for compelling television. If it’s merely valuable, it’s not likely to make it. The show has passed on featuring paintings worth $500,000 because the stories behind them didn’t hold any appeal.

3. Every Antiques Roadshow visitor gets a free appraisal.

Not selected for airtime? No problem. Ticket holders are still eligible for a free appraisal of their two items, regardless of whether you wind up being filmed for television.

4. Antiques Roadshow appraisers get a little time to cram for their subject.

Antiques Roadshow appraiser Katherine Van Dell (R) looks at a watch and Art Deco star sapphire ring.Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

While appraisers on Antiques Roadshow know their stuff, it’s impossible to have the finer details on every object that comes their way. Once an item is selected for taping, appraisers have anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes to do some quick research and gather more information to share when it’s time to record the segment.

5. Antiques Roadshow appraisers don’t get paid.

Each taping of Antiques Roadshow uses roughly 70 appraisers across a spectrum of specialties, from fine art to pop culture. Surprisingly, none of them get paid for their work. They don’t even get to expense their travel, if any is required. Appraisers typically appear in order to bolster their profile in the antiques industry. The one perk? Free breakfast on filming days.

6. Antiques Roadshow has rules about what guests can wear.

Antiques Roadshow appraiser Frederick Oster (off-camera) discusses a French violin circa 1875 with a guest.Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

Producers have just one hard and fast rule about people who might have an appraisal filmed for television. Their clothes cannot display any corporate or brand logos, since the series would then have to obtain clearance to display them. You might have a great old dresser, but if you’re wearing a Pepsi shirt, you’re probably out of luck.

7. Antiques Roadshow won’t appraise certain items.

Just because something is valuable doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good fit for Antiques Roadshow. Appraisers will refuse to assess motor vehicles, stamps, stock certificates, paper currency, coins, tools, fossils (sorry, dinosaur collectors), ammunition, explosives, or anything they deem hazardous. The most curious banned item? Glass fire extinguishers. Also known as glass fire grenades, the fragile objects were tossed on fires in the 19th century in the hopes the chemical inside—carbon tetrachloride (CTC) —could suppress the flames. But CTC is poisonous and shouldn’t be handled by anyone.

8. Antiques Roadshow will move furniture.

A Matthew Egerton Jr. stand circa 1825 waits for its close-up on Antiques Roadshow.Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

It’s easy enough to pack up a sculpture or baseball card and take it to a taping, but how do massive pieces of furniture get there? If the item is interesting enough, the show will move it for guests. Ticket holders can submit photos of their furniture to producers. If it’s chosen for the show, crew members will pick it up anywhere within a 60-mile radius of the taping and then deliver it back, all free of charge.

9. The most valuable item to ever appear on Antiques Roadshow might surprise you.

It can be difficult to assess what constitutes the most valuable item to ever appear in the 22-year history of Antiques Roadshow. Is it the value given in an appraisal, or what an item eventually sold for—if it was ever put up for sale at all? For an appraisal, the answer seems to be El Alabanil (The Laborer), a 1904 painting by artist Diego Rivera that was valued between $1.2 million to $2.2 million by appraiser Colleene Fesko in September 2018. Fesko originally appraised it at $800,000 to $1 million on the show in 2012 but updated the value to reflect the high sale prices of other works by Rivera. One painting, The Rivals, sold for $9.7 million.

10. Antiques Roadshow is changing.

Antiques Roadshow appraiser Gary Piattoni examines a storage trunk that once belonged to the Temptations.Courtesy of Luke Crafton for WGBH, © WGBH 2018

According to executive producer Marsha Bemko, the latest seasons of Antiques Roadshow have been a marked departure from seasons past. Instead of filming in convention centers, the show has been setting up their camera at historic venues. During their 2018 season, the show visited the Ca’ d’Zan in Sarasota, Florida, the onetime home of circus pioneer John Ringling. The series has also been to Churchill Downs in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, and the Hotel del Coronado resort in San Diego. Bemko told the realityblurred.com website that while they entertain far fewer guests during these visits—tickets are limited to 2500 people—some venues are hesitant to book the show out of fear they might be disruptive or create a mess. The crew, however, is nothing but professional. Bemko said one location representative told her the FBI once set up shop there and the Antiques Roadshow crew was by far the more organized of the two.

11. Antiques Roadshow can’t get everything right.

With thousands of items to sift through annually, the appraisers of obscure items can’t have a perfect batting average. The show experienced a twinge of embarrassment in 2016 when a disfigured face on a jug was presented for review by appraiser Stephen Fletcher. Declaring it a collectible pottery product of the late 19th or early 20th century, Fletcher said it was valued at $30,000 to $50,000. It turns out that the jug—which was purchased for $300 at an estate sale—was actually an Oregon high school art project from the 1970s. A friend of the artist, Betsy Soule, alerted her to its appearance on television. Fletcher maintained it was still valuable but reduced his estimate to between $3000 and $5000.

10 of the Best Indoor and Outdoor Heaters on Amazon

Mr. Heater/Amazon
Mr. Heater/Amazon

With the colder months just around the corner, you might want to start thinking about investing in an indoor or outdoor heater. Indoor heaters not only provide a boost of heat for drafty spaces, but they can also be a money-saver, allowing you to actively control the heat based on the rooms you’re using. Outdoor heaters, meanwhile, can help you take advantage of cold-weather activities like camping or tailgating without having to call it quits because your extremities have gone numb. Check out this list of some of Amazon’s highest-rated indoor and outdoor heaters so you can spend less time shivering this winter and more time enjoying what the season has to offer.

Indoor Heaters

1. Lasko Ceramic Portable Heater; $20


This 1500-watt heater from Lasko may only be nine inches tall, but it can heat up to 300 square feet of space. With 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings—for high heat, low heat, and fan only—it’s a dynamic powerhouse that’ll keep you toasty all season long.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Alrocket Oscillating Space Heater; $25


Alrocket’s oscillating space heater is an excellent addition to any desk or nightstand. Using energy-saving ceramic technology, this heater is made of fire-resistant material, and its special “tip-over” safety feature forces it to turn off if it falls over (making it a reliable choice for homes with kids or pets). It’s extremely quiet, too—at only 45 dB, it’s just a touch louder than a whisper. According to one reviewer, this an ideal option for a “very quiet but powerful” heater.

Buy it: Amazon

3. De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heather; $79


If you prefer a space heater with a more old-fashioned vibe, this radiator heater from De’Longhi gives you 2020 technology with a vintage feel. De’Longhi’s heater automatically turns itself on when the temperatures drops below 44°F, and it will also automatically turn itself off if it starts to overheat. Another smart safety feature? The oil system is permanently sealed, so you won’t have to worry about accidental spills.

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4. Aikoper Ceramic Tower Heater; $70


Whether your room needs a little extra warmth or its own heat source, Aikoper’s incredibly precise space heater has got you covered. With a range of 40-95°F, it adjusts by one-degree intervals, giving you the specific level of heat you want. It also has an option for running on an eight-hour timer, ensuring that it will only run when you need it.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Isiler Space Heater; $37


For a space heater that adds a fun pop of color to any room, check out this yellow unit from Isiler. Made from fire-resistant ceramic, Isiler’s heater can start warming up a space within seconds. It’s positioned on a triangular stand that creates an optimal angle for hot air to start circulating, rendering it so effective that, as one reviewer put it, “This heater needs to say ‘mighty’ in its description.”

Buy it: Amazon

Outdoor Heaters

6. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy; $104

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Make outdoor activities like camping and grilling last longer with Mr. Heater’s indoor/outdoor portable heater. This heater can connect to a propane tank or to a disposable cylinder, allowing you to keep it in one place or take it on the go. With such a versatile range of uses, this heater will—true to its name—become your best buddy when the temperature starts to drop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiland Pyramid Patio Propane Heater; Various


The cold’s got nothing on this powerful outdoor heater. Hiland’s patio heater has a whopping 40,000 BTU output, which runs for eight to 10 hours on high heat. Simply open the heater’s bottom door to insert a propane tank, power it on, and sit back to let it warm up your backyard. The bright, contained flame from the propane doubles as an outdoor light.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Solo Stove Bonfire Pit; $345

Solo Stove/Amazon

This one is a slight cheat since it’s a bonfire pit and not a traditional outdoor heater, but the Solo Stove has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon for a reason. Everything about this portable fire pit is meticulously crafted to maximize airflow while it's lit, from its double-wall construction to its bottom air vents. These features all work together to help the logs burn more completely while emitting far less smoke than other pits. It’s the best choice for anyone who wants both warmth and ambiance on their patio.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dr. Infrared Garage Shop Heater; $119

Dr. Infrared/Amazon

You’ll be able to use your garage or basement workshop all season long with this durable heater from Dr. Infrared. It’s unique in that it includes a built-in fan to keep warm air flowing—something that’s especially handy if you need to work without wearing gloves. The fan is overlaid with heat and finger-protectant grills, keeping you safe while it’s powered on.

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10. Mr. Heater 540 Degree Tank Top; $86

Mr. Heater/Amazon

Mr. Heater’s clever propane tank top automatically connects to its fuel source, saving you from having to bring any extra attachments with you on the road. With three heat settings that can get up to 45,000 BTU, the top can rotate 360 degrees to give you the perfect angle of heat you need to stay cozy. According to a reviewer, for a no-fuss outdoor heater, “This baby is super easy to light, comes fully assembled … and man, does it put out the heat.”

Buy it: Amazon

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Why Steve Carell Was Anxious About Being in The Office Finale

Steve Carell was a bit apprehensive about appearing in the series finale.
Steve Carell was a bit apprehensive about appearing in the series finale.

Even though fans of The Office were sad to say goodbye to Steve Carell and the employees at Dunder Mifflin when the series went off the air in 2013, a lot of new content related to the hit comedy has come out in recent years.

Not only can fans reminisce about The Office with actresses Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) and Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) on their podcast Office Ladies, but Kevin Malone actor Brian Baumgartner has also started his own podcast about the show as well.

Baumgartner’s podcast, titled An Oral History of The Office, offers listeners a chance to learn how the American version of the mockumentary comedy was developed. From conception to casting, An Oral History of The Office gives longtime fans an in-depth look at how their favorite paper-pushers came to be.

As PopSugar reports, Baumgartner’s 12-episode podcast has featured guest appearances from other actors that were on the show. Carell, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Fischer, and Kinsey have all dropped in to talk about their days in Scranton.

For episode 11 of the podcast, titled “It’s a Wrap,” Baumgartner spoke with Carell and The Office creator Greg Daniels about the actor's surprise appearance in the series finale.

Longtime fans of the show will recall that Michael Scott left Dunder Mifflin to move to Colorado with Holly (played by Amy Ryan) in the finale of season 7. The podcast revealed that Carell was actually hesitant to return for the season 9 finale.

You can read an excerpt from the interview below:

Brian Baumgartner:

Greg wanted the finale to be a giant family reunion, and any office reunion wouldn’t be complete without Steve Carell. And had that been in the works for a while, between you and Steve, or did you go to him and he immediately said, yes, I’ll come back?

Greg Daniels:

Well, I think he was really anxious that it not be all about him. Like he was like, everybody who put in these other two years, this is the end of the show. This is the end of all of their stories. I left, this isn’t all about me. So he didn’t want to do too much. Uh, and you know, he had thoughts on how, what would draw him back to the situation. And he really liked the idea of coming back for Dwight’s wedding. Like he thought the character learned something, so he didn’t need self-promotion. At this point, he didn’t need to come back to be on the documentary. He came back for his friend Dwight.

Brian Baumgartner:

Steve said there had to be a reason.

Steve Carell:

Because I had told Greg, I just don’t think it’s a good idea because I felt like Michael’s story had definitely ended. And I was reticent about coming back because you guys had two more, really valuable seasons and that was everyone else’s ending. Michael had already had his, so I just didn’t want to, but at the same time, I felt like I should out of respect for all of you guys and out of my love for everybody to, you know, to acknowledge the, uh, the ending of this thing.

You can listen to the full episode here.