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'Roadshow' faithful seek treasures' history more than value

| Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

The eye-popping watercolors and oil paintings that Theresa Muchler's uncle left her four decades ago always left her with questions.

Were they valuable• Was there some elaborate history behind them?

Muchler, 70, says she isn't expecting a big pay off when appraisers from PBS' "Antiques Roadshow" come to Pittsburgh on Saturday and look over the artworks.

She's looking for answers.

She will join the scores of amateur treasurer seekers who are expected to converge on Saturday at David L. Lawrence Convention Center, as the show makes a daylong stop in Pittsburgh. As many as 75 appraisers with expertise in more than 20 artisan areas will be on hand for the show.

Don't bother trying to get in to the "Roadshow" taping if you don't have a ticket; you had to get that back in April. Nearly 21,000 people registered to get tickets in the spring, but only 6,000 were handed out, executive producer Marsha Bemko says.

In 1968, Muchler's uncle, car dealer Joseph Ciccone, bought a statuesque Queen Anne-style house on Fourth Avenue in Coraopolis that sat behind his lot. Before knocking it down to make way for more car space, he gave Muchler first crack at the treasure trove of tasteful furniture and pristine artworks inside.

Muchler took a desk, a game table and a three-drawer chest, along with several paintings that she plans to have appraised. Among them were a Japanese wood-block print, an impressive oil of a cathedral in Canada and an oval watercolor of a woman modeling a big hat during what appears to be the 1850s.

"They're just beautiful. I know they'd be appealing to most people," Muchler says.

Some of the pieces -- although not all of them -- hang on the walls of her Mt. Lebanon home. First, she'll have to decide which of the pieces to show; organizers are limiting treasure seekers to two artifacts per person.

While most of what appraisers will see won't be worth much, enthusiasm for the show, now filming its 16th season, has swollen in recent days.

During a "Roadshow" taping last month in Tulsa, Okla., a set of Chinese cups, carved from rhinoceros horns, were determined to be from the late 17th century and valued between $1 million and $1.5 million.

"People know when 'Roadshow' comes to town, they're coming with the country's best experts," Bemko says. "The excitement is always there."

Footage shot in Pittsburgh won't air until early to mid 2012.

Tickets to the show landed last month in the mailbox of Carol Obley and Alice Teeters' Irwin home.

No one sits in the red wooden barrel chair Teeters' aunt got as part of a real estate sale. Her aunt gave it to her just two years before she died in June 2001.

Teeters has been a loyal fan of the show "for forever," but admits she's no art expert.

She's always been curious what the chair, with its hand-carved lion's face on the chair's back and the upraised German stamping on the underside, would fetch on the open market.

"It could be worth nothing, and that's OK," Teeters says. "To me, because my aunt gave it to me, it's worth $1 million in sentimental value."

Likewise, Obley is looking for answers more than she is an appraiser's blessing.

She always has pondered the origin of the ivory-colored urn that caught her eye in a Latrobe antique store 18 years ago. The flower-patterned design with its brass handle and base harken back to turn-of-the-20th century England and monarchy.

"I've always had a thing for Victorian artifacts," Obley says. "I don't care about the money. I just want to find out more about it."

Bernard Lockard, 78, always has been intrigued by Native American culture, and jumped at the chance 20 years ago when an Altoona dealer offered to sell him a ceremonial pipe and war club that he says once belonged to Sitting Bull.

He keeps the artifacts in the foyer of his Indiana home, next to a notarized letter he says is from the Hunkpapa Lakota chief's family, verifying their authenticity.

He hopes "Roadshow" appraisers can put a value on the items so he can insure them.

But, are they up for sale?

"I'm not saying I'd never sell them," he says. "Everything's got a price."

Additional Information:

Ticket deadline passed

'Antiques Roadshow' will be filmed on Saturday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.

But, don't try to get in with your heirlooms if you don't have a ticket.

The April 18 ticket application deadline has passed, and tickets will not be available at the door.

 

Additional Information:

Hints for treasure seekers

• Each ticket holder must bring at least one item, but no more than two items.

• Size matters: Your item(s) must fit through a standard doorway.

• Plan ahead. Remember, you will need to use stairs, an escalator or an elevator during the event. Dollies and carts aren't provided.

• Paintings are among the most popular appraisal items. If you plan to bring one to be evaluated, be prepared to wait in line for a long time.

• Vehicles, stamps, paper currency, coins, bicycles, fossils and glass fire extinguishers won't be appraised.

 

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