What ‘Antiques Roadshow' found in Atlanta visit

The popular PBS "Antiques Roadshow" rolled into Atlanta over the weekend, bringing out thousands of people hoping to discover the value of their family treasure and antique store finds. Will it be a windfall or a bust?

"Atlanta loves us, that's for sure," said Executive Producer Marsha Bemko, who said 3,000 pairs of tickets were distributed for the Atlanta visit, which should air in several episodes in 2012.

People from all over Georgia and surrounding states filled the hallways and exhibit hall at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park with jewelry, furniture, paintings, guns and textiles.

Bemko expected to see a lot of Civil War items in Georgia, which was the fifth stop on the summer tour.

"I think we are smart reality television," she said. "You can't watch a season of ‘Antiques Roadshow' without knowing when the Civil War happened. People don't realize they're learning. You're going to learn something about the world. We have enthusiasts who just want to watch and learn. Others live vicariously through other people's joys and disappointments."

She said the show has changed the culture. "I think it gives people an appreciation for their own things," Bemko said.

A corner chair, made of mahogany and other woods and from the period between 1760 and 1780, was appraised for as much as $300,000. A man bought it as part of a collection of chairs and other items in New York.

The record find for the show so far was last month in Tulsa, Okla., where a man came in with a collection of Chinese cups carved from rhino horn. The set was valued at $1 million to $1.5 million.

Atlanta is a good market, said Rafael Eledge, one of the appraisers.

The city "is a melting pot and you're liable to see anything," he said. "There are some big markets here and a lot of antique stores. It's like Christmas morning: You walk in and you never know what you'll get to see."

In fact, during the show, Eledge appraised a leather-handled Civil War cavalry officer's sword and scabbard, belonging to the owner's great-great-grandfather, at  $50,000.

Indeed, not every person walked away with priceless antiques. Some disappointed visitors discovered their prized treasures were reproductions or worth about what they paid for them or a little more.

Others were just happy to know the history of their possessions. The "Antiques Roadshow" staff requested that the media just use first names while items are appraised because of the values of some items.

"We're not going to Europe," said Julie, who drove from Franklin, N.C., with her husband, Jerry.

The two wanted to find out the value of several items, including a painting that they bought for $50 at an antiques mall. Her husband suspected the painting was actually a print, shellacked to make it resemble an oil painting. She was more optimistic.

Turns out he was right. The appraised value? Between $200 and $300. "When he didn't say $100,000, I kind of blocked it out," said Julie, laughing. But "it was fine."

Here's what we saw:

Item: Oil painting

History of the find: Alice and Andy bought the painting while on a trip to England about 17 years ago. They paid $300.

What the appraiser said: Appeared to be late 16th or 17th century. Likely Spain or Flemish. "There was a lot going on between Spain and Flanders at that time."

Value: $3,000 to $4,000

Item: Original ink illustration

History of the find: Lauria of Jacksonville bought the artwork from an online auction site for $100. It was published as a signed print but turned out to be an original ink illustration by artist Arthur Rackham. She plans to keep the piece. "It's pretty cool. I'm going to hang it back on my wall."

What the appraiser said: It appeared to be in good condition and the ink was shiny. If it were flat and a bit muted, the question would be whether or not it was a print. It had the earmarks of being ink. Another great thing about it was that it was in the original frame. On the back, it said it was purchased from the artist.

Value: $4,000 t0 $6,000

Item: Dress

Owner: Gayle from Sharpsburg

History of the find: Friend found it in an old deserted farmhouse in Texas. It was in a trunk with other dresses.

What the appraiser said: Machine-sewn in 1910-1912 range. It's a linen, wool and silk blend. Came from a time when women could wear dresses that showed their ankles without being called a "floozy." From the Titanic period. Does have a little damage, but that's not unusual for its age.

Value: $150