Posts Tagged ‘PBS’

What Lurks In Your Walls Or Some People Have All The Luck

October 20, 2010

As I have stated many times before, I love the Antiques Roadshow[1].  I especially love hearing the stories of how people happened to find their treasures. Usually people find things at yard sales, estate sales, tucked away in an attic, a basement, a closet or even curbside. Well, not too long ago there were two people who found treasures in their home that would astound the appraisers at the Antiques Roadshow.

First there’s Blair Pitre of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. He bought a turn of the century bungalow and started work on renovating it.  As he was tearing down the walls, he found movie posters from the late 1920’s/early 1930’s featuring actors such as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin and Joan Crawford. This is an important period in the history of motion pictures because the industry was transitioning from silent to talkies. The previous owner, an 80-year-old woman who died in 2009, was the granddaughter of an early twentieth century movie theater owner in Pitre’s town. As to why the posters were in the wall, most likely she used them as insulation and never thought that they would be worth anything. Pitre had the posters auctioned off to help pay for renovation of his house. One poster, Bulldog Drummond, a drama from 1929 sold for $9,000. Pitre hopes to find more posters in his home. In particular, he is hoping to find Metropolis, since that poster is worth a million dollars.

Next there’s retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martin Kober. For as long as he could remember, a painting of the Virgin Mary crying over the crucified Jesus has been in his family.  Family lore said that the painting was a Michelangelo. The item hung over the sofa of his parents home, until the day when the younger Kober threw a tennis ball and knocked it off the wall. His parents then wrapped it up and kept it behind the sofa. When Kober retired in 2003, he decided to research the history of this painting. One expert, Antonio Forcellino says that the painting is a actual Michelangelo painting, another expert, William Wallace says that it isn’t. Forcellino bases his claims on his expertise as a restorer, as well as the painting’s similarity to a drawing Michelangelo did that is now at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Wallace states that while the piece is impressive, it was not done by Michelangelo. So, who’s right? Time and more examination by experts will tell.

Still, what I want to know is why are Pitre and Kober so lucky? How come their treasures were right under their noses and all that’s in my walls is insulation and all that is behind my sofa are dust bunnies? This inquiring mind wants to know.


[1] Antiques Roadshow is the American version of the BBC television show of the same name that airs on PBS. This show has people bringing their antique and collectible items to appraisers and the appraisers tell them if their items are worth anything. Sometimes the items are worth something and sometimes they aren’t.



Your Stuff Has Issues—Condition Issues Part One

June 19, 2010

Lots of people like acquiring collectibles and antiques, as evidenced by the popularity of the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Yet, when you own something that is older than you, how do you take care of it?  After all, you wouldn’t put a piece of Limoges porcelain from the 1890’s in the dishwasher or use adhesive tape to repair a tear on a U.S. political poster from the early 1900’s. How do you preserve items like these?

Well there are some things you can do to make sure your collectibles last.

Paper Collectibles
1) Obviously, keep the item out of direct sunlight and away from damp, humid places.
2) Don’t use cardboard or adhesive tape with paper collectibles. Over time they will both damage the item.
3) Keep the item in either a protective sleeve, an acid free storage box or frame it.
4) When framing the item, make sure that the frame and backing materials are of conversation quality (i.e. acid free backing and UV protective glass.)
5) Many rodents and insects are attracted to the materials in paper. So, be on the lookout for rodent and insect damage.
6) Keep food and drinks away from the item. Spills and stains can damage an item beyond repair.
7) If the item is 50 years old or older, take it to a paper conservator. To find a paper conservator in the U.S. go to The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) website

1) Obviously, don’t put it in the dishwasher. The hot water and harsh chemicals will damage the piece.
2) Keep out of direct sunlight.
3) Use a soft 2-inch paintbrush to remove dust from the piece.
4) If the item in question is a completely glazed piece, it can be put in soapy water for a few moments. Wipe the item clean with a soft cloth, rinse it in clear water and let it air dry on a stack of newspapers or in a dish rack.
5) Do not soak cold painted or unglazed pieces in soap and water. Instead clean such items with a damp cloth.
6) Don’t wash items like Hummels, Snowbabies or Village pieces.

These tips should help to insure that your paper and porcelain/pottery items will give you many years of enjoyment. Next week there will be more tips on how to protect your collectibles.