Ask Ken: Antiques Roadshow

How long have you been with Antiques Roadshow?

23 years!  I’ve been involved from the very first season in 1996.  The producer of the show asked if I could join more of them since I’m a generalist...and the rest is history.  


Do you have any memories that stand out from that first season?

The memory that stands out for me the most is that so few people attended!  We were in the last city of the season, Durham, North Carolina, and there were only about 100 people there.  The producer actually asked the attendees to go back through the lines to help draw attention. I think it was partly because Durham wasn’t the hot spot it is now, but mainly because most people had no idea what the show was about.  Once the show aired that first year, however, it took off and then there were huge crowds from then on out.


It sounds like there were some exciting changes this season!  In what ways does this season differ from the others?

Now, we’re filming at historic homes and museums instead of using large convention centers or the like. It's really made the process much more fun.  Most appraisers like it and the producers have said that it creates a beautiful backdrop for the filming, much more interesting visually. The locations are chosen based on their historic interest and if they can accommodate large crowds.  


What was your favorite object from this season?

My favorite object was a Civil War prisoner of war pipe.  It was probably carved at the Union prison in Alton, Illinois.  The unusual thing about it was that craving was almost certainly done by Confederate soldiers, but this pipe had “Grent” (Grant misspelled) and the American flag on the sides.  The prisoner likely carved it to make a trade for a can of peaches or a bag of tobacco.


In all your years with the show, what are your top two favorite items that you’ve seen?  

Probably my most favorite thing I saw and appraised was a John Lehman face jug from Alabama.  We appraised it $20,000-30,000, but wound up selling it for the owner for over $80,000. Another favorite is the Shenandoah Valley Stierwalt painted chest - appraised for $40,000-60,000.  I was so thrilled to see it and then shortly after we sold a similar one at my auction house.


What is your favorite part about the Antiques Roadshow?  

My favorite part is the people.  From getting to hang out with and learn from my fellow appraisers, to the WGBH crew, and the attendees who share their items the people are the best part.  It's been a fabulous experience and I feel like all of the appraisers and crew have become very close. Of course, I also love looking at the stuff and hearing all the stories behind it!  

Click through the photos below to see some great photos from Ken's time with Antiques Roadshow! 

*Some photos from Antiques Roadshow | PBS