Anecdotal evidence shows that television viewers on Monday nights at 8 p.m. are generally either watching people learning how to dance the paso doble on network television or they’re tuned to PBS for an episode of Antiques Roadshow, that staple of public television where ordinary people bring their collectibles and antiques to an arena where dozens of expert appraisers are available to tell them what their items are really worth. It’s fun to watch along with people as they find out the truth about family legends, whether the news is good (that hideous vase is worth a small fortune, making the decision as to whether to sell it or not an easy one) or not so good (that proud family story about Grandpa’s achievements? Uh-oh, maybe not).
Anyone in the vicinity of Woodstock on Saturday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. can have his or her own Antiques Roadshow moment when Robert Meringolo, former Sotheby’s associate and founder of the Albany Auction Gallery, brings a team of nationally and internationally recognized experts to the Woodstock Playhouse to appraise (and possibly purchase) antiques and collectibles. Admission is by suggested donation of $5 for the first item appraised and $3 for each additional item (or a goodwill offering of something comparable, says Meringolo, as the event is a fundraiser and proceeds will benefit the Saugerties Village Tree Commission). The Antique Road Show will take place outside under the portico of the Woodstock Playhouse if weather permits, and if not, will move indoors.
Meringolo notes that, while his “Antique Road Show” is not affiliated with the public television show in any way, it does use many of the same well-respected appraisers. Experts on hand will include Nicholas Argyros, an expert on cameras and photography; Mark Zyla, an authority on sports-related memorabilia; John Tkachuk, who can value signatures and autographs as well as other related ephemera; Paul Schmielewski, specialist in silver and jewelry; Ray Zyla, owner of Mohawk Arms, a military relics, weapons, swords, uniforms and medals expert; Elizabeth Roshkowska of Roshkowska Galleries, specializing in 20th-century works of art; and Colin Fraser, former vice president and head of Christie’s worldwide stamp department and longstanding American Philatelic Society and American Stamp Dealers Association member.
Meringolo will evaluate pre-20th-century art as well as a range of many other items, as will the rest of the team, who, he says, “have been in the business forever and have seen thousands of items and have a good idea of what they bring.” The experts will have computers set up with access to webcams. “If somebody brings something in that we need some help on or an expert in that field,” says Meringolo, “we immediately send photos to them and get an on-the-spot appraisal.”
Several of the experts, including Meringolo and fellow Woodstock resident Colin Fraser, live in the area and are even available for house calls. They will make arrangements to visit someone’s home in the days before or after the event, free of charge, to conduct an appraisal if somebody is too elderly or infirm to make it to the one-day event (or if they have too many items to carry them all in).
The list of items that can be appraised includes (but is not limited to) sterling silver flatware sets, antique toys, jewelry and jewels, dolls, stamps, antique crocks and stoneware, folk art, antique motorcycles and cars, old photographs and cameras, Oriental carpets, costume jewelry, scrap gold and silver, military weapons and guns, sporting goods, paintings, furniture, clocks and watches, glassware, historical documents, books, musical instruments and collectibles, Chinese and Japanese antiques and coins.
Generally about 80 percent of the people who have items appraised want to sell them, says Meringolo. The appraisers can give them advice on how to place the items up for auction, or may even be interested in buying the items outright. He says that an Antique Road Show that they held in Catskill brought in a man with a Confederate sword that he sold to an appraiser for $12,000. Be reassured, however, says Meringolo, that the appraisers are held to very strict rules: “They have to give an accurate appraisal.”
And they do find treasures. “We found a million-dollar chair in Lake George, in an ordinary-looking house on the second floor,” says Meringolo. “It was a Chinese chair, with a little bronze plaque on it that said it was a gift to the Emperor in 1736 and was in the Winter Palace. We sent photos to Lark Mason, who used to be Sotheby’s Chinese expert but now has his own auction gallery, and he said that’s exactly what that chair was. It sold at his auction in October for just over a million dollars.”
Antique Road Show, Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., $5 first item/$3 additional, Woodstock Playhouse, 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock; (518) 937-4976.