Does ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Hurt Our Hobby?

Posted August 15th, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Uncategorized

I never thought I’d see a dark side to this entertaining PBS show that seems to be shown nightly on our nearest station.

Happy stories. Happy people.

However, I think the show’s “value” virus has afflicted too many collectors.

One of the happiest parts of this blog has been spotlighting fellow collectors. Collectors who build collections around their own interests, not a price guide.
I’ve been in contact with more than one collector who is afraid to be profiled. They think I want to write about their net worth, not their hobby specialty.

“I don’t want to discuss the size of my collection or the value of my best autographs.” Then, they add that they fear for the safety of their collection and their family.

The stories I seek are the “What is it?” and
“How did you get it? along with WHY?
I don’t do values. Watch these guys
for a “How much???”

I am not ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. I am not an appraiser.

Here’s my brand of appraising. Your autographs are worth as much, or as little, as you care about them. Or, for someone with visions of dollar signs and sugar plums dancing in their heads, the autograph could be worth as much as the next guy will pay.

Ages ago, I received a phone call that interrupted my dinner. (No, it wasn’t a political candidate…)

“I saw your name in Sports Collectors Digest,” the caller began. “You gotta help me.”

Sigh. Yes?

“I want to know how much a Ty Cobb autographed baseball is worth.”

Looking back at my lukewarm-plate, I blurted a fair figure.

“Wait. That can’t be.”
I began to say how I based my estimate range on several factors. He interrupted.
“I paid $300 more than that. My wife’s gonna kill me.”
I paused, stared at the ceiling, then lied — for a good cause.

“Tell her it’s a good price…but do your homework next time, okay? My dinner’s cold. Good luck.”

Coming Friday: a Harmon Killebrew biography, plus the world’s biggest autograph?

2 Responses to “Does ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Hurt Our Hobby?”

  1. ND says:

    I can sort of seeing how someone wouldn’t unfortunately want their collection being profiled for fearing of being robbed. There are shady people out there looking for just that type of information.

    You are right though. It’s worth what it is worth to you. The “book” value doesn’t mean anything unless someone will pay it. A lot of collectibles have “book” value but nobody wants to buy them.

    Enjoy your collections and do them for your own happiness. The whole “valuation” of every sports related item is causing players both active and retired to be increasingly weary about signing.

  2. Value in dollars is always a problem because it is, by definition, something that describes a relations between multiple actors instead of something inherent to a thing in itself. You need a seller and at least one buyer. If there are more buyers than sellers it’s worth more, etc.

    Price guides help to set parameters for this relationship but these are strictly theoretical (all the moreso in the age of the internet) because they follow transactions that have already occurred and try to predict those that WILL occur. There are no guarantees.

    Roadshow, etc. are in that kind of ballpark as they assume a buyer for a given object. When they throw out those values I always ask myself, “But did they really sell it, and if so for how much?” A followup show on that question would be sweet.

    I enjoy my collection because it’s strictly what I want to collect. Versus value, I let Bobby Doerr deface a 1939 PlayBall because I wanted his auto on a card from almost 80 years ago. Did the same thing with a 1951 Topps Bob Feller. I bought those cards because I wanted them to sign them. They are just for fun, and just for me!

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