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“That means up to 14,000 items [for a given event]. Even if I could get my four tickets and recruit three more people to carry in items with me, I’d have only a .057 percent chance of air time. Not very good odds. They get even slimmer with only about 50 pieces being shown on the three broadcast episodes edited from each day of shooting.

“At this point, I would have to consult a mathematician to assess by how many decimal points my chances of getting on TV had declined.”

Diane and Monte Murbach (left) with oil painting of Kirk Douglas from 1957 film Top Secret Affair; Duane Dimock (center) holding Big Loo

At the 2001 Roadshow taping, ticket holders lined up outside Convention Center Halls A and B. Dimock’s antiquing accomplices included his wife Susan Mendolia, his sister Diane Murbach, and her husband Monte Murbach.

He had chosen four items he felt had the best odds of landing him airtime: a 36"x40" framed oil painting of Kirk Douglas that was featured prominently in the 1957 film Top Secret Affair; a set of 1960s Nabisco Rice Honeys and Wheat Honeys cereal boxes featuring the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine; a Tarzan pulp-art oil painting with lettered title Tarzan and the Jungle Queen that was published in a 1956 magazine; and a Big Loo toy robot from 1962, three feet tall and in the original Marx box, considered one of the most desirable items in the sci-fi and robot collector’s market.

Big Loo, 3-foot tall toy robot from 1962

Says Dimock, “Susan had the Tarzan painting, Diane had the Beatles cereal boxes, Monte was carrying the Kirk Douglas painting, and I was wheeling my three-foot-tall robot.”

Susan describes taking the Tarzan artwork to Paintings and Drawings. “They said, yes, it was an oil painting, but they didn’t know anything about it. So, since it was Tarzan, they sent me to Collectibles.”

A woman at that table performed a brief inspection (“less than a minute”) and informed Susan that she wanted a co-volunteer to examine the painting. “He looked at the front and said it was the original art for a movie half-sheet and then typed the title Tarzan and the Jungle Queen on his laptop.”

At this point, at least four Roadshow volunteer appraisers had handled the painting, without anyone checking the backside to read the signed and dated publisher’s stamp, clearly identifying it as coming from the July 1956 issue of Male Magazine.

“The volunteer couldn’t find the movie title on his computer, so he looked up the artist’s name but couldn’t find that either. Then he told me it could be from a book or periodical and that they weren’t very collectible.” Around this time, the volunteer was approached to do an on-camera appraisal nearby.

“He became very distracted, and that’s when I finally turned the painting over and showed him the writing and stamp on the back. Still acting distracted, he said, ‘Oh, it must be from one of those old men’s periodicals, $200 to $400,’ and then he walked away from me to start taping something.” None of her encounter was filmed.

Next up was Diane at the Collectibles table, with the Beatles cereal boxes. She recalls: “An older gentleman started checking them out, and I told him the boxes had come from the original owner in San Francisco, were sold to a man in Boston, and then made it back to San Diego. He told me that the cereal box market had fallen, so the boxes weren’t worth that much, maybe $50 to $100 for the pair.”

When I talked to Dimock about the Beatles boxes, he smugly retorted, “That [later] became my biggest collectible sale of all time, when I sold the pair for $5000!”

Back at the Roadshow, Monte carried the Kirk Douglas movie prop to the Paintings and Drawings table. “They sent me away with ‘The frame and painting are not in good shape, very little value as a painting, maybe $100 to $200, but make sure to take it over to Collectibles.’”

Doing as instructed, Monte says, “A woman did a quick look and tried calling over another man, but he was doing a videotaped interview with someone else and clearly preferred that [being on camera]. This time, I was able to explain that the painting was an original prop from the 1957 movie Top Secret Affair.

“Kirk Douglas is painted as his character, a two-star general, and I told her the artwork was seen in the film quite a bit…she told me she really didn’t know a lot about Hollywood props but that, with verification of the facts, she would give a value of $400 to $600.”

Once again, the inspection and estimate wasn’t filmed. Three items down, one to go.

“Finally,” says Dimock, “it was my turn, with my three-foot-tall robot. Big Loo is futuristic, towering, and the big colorful box should be perfect for television. I even had a great childhood story of always getting mad at my sister for dressing my menacing Big Loo in her dolls’ clothes. Robot blasphemy!

“I wheeled Loo to the first appraiser that took me but ran into an immediate hitch. I had met the appraiser before at a toy show, and he also recognized me, which meant he wasn’t allowed to appraise my item. He passed me to another volunteer, but that guy didn’t want to look at it either, saying it was out of his area [of expertise].”

Dimock says, “My plan had been thwarted by a chance encounter with someone who knew me. However, even though the guy had a conflict of interest that prevented him from doing the estimate, he motioned the roving camera to come over anyway. Pretty soon, they decided that shots of the robot itself were good enough for a one-minute roll, even though there wasn’t going to be an on-camera appraisal.”

That meant Big Loo might appear on the eventual TV broadcast. But what about Dimock?

“I signed a release form, still photos were taken, and I was videotaped for a possible spot. But that still didn’t ensure I would be getting on TV.”

Dimock returned to the convention center later that day with one more item to run through the guessing gauntlet, having scalped an additional entrance ticket. His final broadcast bait: a 1917 box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix, unopened and in mint condition.

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Comments

nan shartel Jan. 19, 2011 @ 12:51 p.m.

did not know and this is great background for San Diego's visit from the Antique Road Show

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SurfPuppy619 Jan. 19, 2011 @ 3:11 p.m.

Antiques Road Show used to be my favorite PBS program, but History Detectives replaced it.

Both shows are top notch IMO.

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nan shartel Jan. 19, 2011 @ 3:30 p.m.

i love that one 2 Pupster...but my faves r the British Masterpiece Theatres

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Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 19, 2011 @ 8:11 p.m.

It's getting harder to find treasures in trash, ironically in part because Antiques Roadshow's successful formula has educated so many people about memorabilia markets and auctions. ARS's own popularity is making it difficult to find unraided attics, basements, thrift stores, and yard sales --

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David Dodd Jan. 20, 2011 @ 3:41 a.m.

Jay Allen, I really liked this piece! I've watched the show over the years from time to time, always wondered about how it was put on, great to read the behind-the-scenes stuff. Who would keep old cereal boxes? I get the Roy Rogers stuff, but cereal boxes? I worry about humanity in general. The formula is simple: Eat the corn flakes, dispose of the container.

I have a priceless memory of Gene Autry. I can't sell it at the Antiques Roadshow. I never saved much from my youth, but getting tossed out of Anaheim Stadium with my little brother by Gene himself, well, I can't imagine what that appraisal is worth. He was my brother's idol.

Great stuff, Jay, I hope you get another feature here when ComicCon comes around this year.

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nan shartel Jan. 20, 2011 @ 7:02 a.m.

JAS when i think of rhe value of all the Kewpie dolls i got as a kid and never played with i could retch

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redpaper Jan. 20, 2011 @ 11:57 a.m.

Yes, cereal boxes, I remember reading about some people collect them like stamps, but they dont fit into stamp books very easy. Kinda funny, from around the same I read about cereal collecting, I did see those Beatle boxes on ebay in 2008 and they were for sale for $12,000.00. I supposed he sold them to that the ebay seller who was reselling them. That month, I was a little short on cash to buy them, so I went down to the grocery store and bought some Frosted Flakes instead.

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dwbat Jan. 20, 2011 @ 12:05 p.m.

RE: "...the TV program Antiques Roadshow would be filming in San Diego."

Filming? No, the show is shot on video so it's taped, not filmed.

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bohemianopus Jan. 20, 2011 @ 2:16 p.m.

Great article! Right up my "alley."

Being a "garage sale hag," my biggest find was a champion heavyweight boxing belt signed by Muhammad Ali. I bought it in Florida for $1. The woman was going through a divorce and wanted to get rid of all her ex-husband's "valuables."

Coming from a family of former fighters and boxing fans, I knew it had to be worth more than a $1. It was. In fact (without documentation) I sold the belt to Grant Elvis Phillips (the designer of Grant boxing attire) for $1,000.

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Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 20, 2011 @ 4:27 p.m.

Wow, a boxing belt signed by Ali for a buck!!!! Awesome!

The article's cover photo should be explained -- the woman with rug was part of the San Diego 2010 taping. She's holding an asmalyk rug from Turkmenistan, circa 1900. The Turkoman nomads wove asmalyks for both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes, and examples from this time period are extremely rare. Rescued from a dumpster, the rug was valued by an ARS volunteer at $125,000 to $150,000.

Other San Diego 2010 high ticket items included a 1907 portrait of one guest's aristocratic grandmother, painted by Ashcan School artist Robert Henri -- valued at $250,000 to $350,000.

Also, an original Hortus Eystettensis book, a groundbreaking collection of oversize botanical illustrations published in 1613 -- valued at $250,000 to $300,000.

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bohemianopus Jan. 20, 2011 @ 6:58 p.m.

Hmmm...I have a rug that's over one hundred years old. It's from Balochistan. Maybe I should have it appraised.

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arttrak Jan. 23, 2011 @ 1:35 p.m.

Let me say from the beginning that I am not a spokesperson for Antiques Roadshow and am not in any way representing how the show might respond to this article. I have been on Antiques Roadshow as an appraiser for 15 years on the Ethnographic table, so I do consider that I know something about the show. If Mr. Sanford was going to do a piece on Roadshow, I am soemwhat bewildered that he never interviewed any of the appraisers or producers of the show. We are all very reachable with addresses posted on the Roadshow website.

Some of these facts are just wrong. For example Mr. Dimock was quoted as saying: “Say a well-known appraiser certifies a collection as being worth around $300,000,” says Dimock, “and someone buys it. The appraiser will get from one to ten percent of that value for putting their name on the collection. That’s $3000 to $30,000.”. In 36 years of appraising tribal art I have never heard of this and have never been offered a percentage of the appraised value. That is considered to be not only unethical but it no doubt opens up potential civil and criminal problems for the appraiser.

Mr. Sanford has extensively quoted Mr. Dimock as being an expert on the Roadshow as a result of his two attempts to get on television. I wouldn't give immediate credibility to his story of what happened on these two ocassions. The appraisers have been selected to participate on the show because they have over years demonstrated their credibility in the marketplace. We certainly, like everybody on this planet, are capable of making a mistake. But I can assure you that Antiques Roadshow is committed to getting it right. If an appraiser was consistently making mistakes, they would not be asked back. And even though we do volunteer, it is by invitation only.

If you are really interested in how this show works, our Executive Producer, Marsha Bemko, has written a great book which is available either on the Roadshow website or on Amazon. JB

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Founder Jan. 24, 2011 @ 8:36 a.m.

Great comments! Thanks for adding to the story!

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David Dodd Jan. 23, 2011 @ 3:31 p.m.

Let me say from the beginning that I am not a spokesperson for Jay Allen Sanford and am not in any way representing how the Reader might respond to this article.

But Mr. arttrak, it's sort of easy to see that the article is presented from the point of view of a certain participant. I don't know a tinker's damn about antiques or appraising, but when you write an article the idea is to present the story from a certain angle. Most of the time, the angle isn't intended to have the reader draw a certain conclusion, but rather to enable the reader to reach their own conclusion based on the attitude of the piece. In this case, I'm unsure of how you are seeing the "show" represented in a negative manner. I really enjoyed this article from the aspect of someone who so desperately just wanted to get on television that he actually waited in line to get something appraised. Why should that involve yourself? In other words, if the "show" was presented from your point of view, it would bore me to no end. Not that you're not a wonderful human being and quite interesting in your own right, but the idea isn't thrilling to me.

In other words, I don't want to read about how a bank works, but I'm keen to read a story about a bank robbery, know what I mean?

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Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 23, 2011 @ 4:42 p.m.

There have been countless articles written about Antiques Roadshow, many offering detailed "behind the scenes" insight into the program production.

However, this article is about Mr. Dimock and several attending San Diegans, documenting their personal experiences, observations, and insights from the other side of the curtain.

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arttrak Jan. 24, 2011 @ 7:05 a.m.

I totally get both comments. Readers enjoy sharing experiences of others which is in fact one of the compelling draws of Roadshow itself. Many of us look at the car accident when we drive by or maybe we take pleasure in enjoying the discomfort of the train wreck called Jersey Shore. We are curious creatures. That wasn't my point. What if Mr. Dimock didn't quite tell the whole truth? And what if maybe Mr. Sanford didn't quite do enough research on what he presented as fact. Why couldn't Mr. Sanford interview people from the show? I think that might have been interesting if Mr. Sanford was really sincere about sharing the experiences of San Diego attendees. I was just looking for a little balance. And what really set me off was Mr. Dimock's assertion that we as appraisers took a percentage off the appraised amount as a fee for making the property more saleable. Again I can't speak officially for the Roadshow but if you are going to call me a crook don't expect me to sit around and not at least attempt to offer some perspective to the discussion.

I have talked to thousands of Roadshow visitors and heard countless stories which I personally find fascinating. And in fact because we are all working, the first time I see the shows is when you see them. I know nothing about collectibles, furniture, or paintings; however, I love to hear the stories and to educate myself on a new area. That is what Roadshow is all about. It is not about let's trick the appraiser or let's see if we can get on television to make our antique worth a bit more. The Roadshow is about people where the vehicle for telling the story just happens to be art and antiques. And let's hope it stays that way.

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incognito Jan. 30, 2011 @ 2:17 a.m.

Regarding "That rug you found", thank you to Mr. Dimock for taking the time to write this expose. I attended the recent show and both myself and my companion came away from it saying the same thing, "What a complete waste of time and energy." Dimocks account of his experience accurately depicted our interactions with several appraisers. The fact that we had different items is inconsequential because the appraisers were, in every instance, dismissive, condescending, disinterested and demonstrated a total lack of expertise. But the moment of truth, the moment when it became crystal clear that if only I would have stayed home, I could be doing something productive like laundry or taxes, that moment came when you got to the actual dollar value that this esteemed know-nothing proclaimed -- suffice to say they pontificate that your crap is way crappier than you could have imagined. Pshaw! I can still enjoy the weekly shows but there must be a better way to solicit the snippits of staged spontaneity than to compromise and misinform thousands of hopeful people....Ava Bianca

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RTBARON8888 Feb. 12, 2011 @ 10:31 p.m.

I experienced the same thing when I wanted to appear on a collectible appraisal TV show. On the 1st anniversary of the FX: The Collectibles Show, they celebrated with what they called an APPRAISE-A-THON. The location was in my city, and I decided that I was going to be on TV. I chose an item that was large and colorful. I had a standup advertising display of Mr. T, which was promoting Mr. T cereal. I also had a full box of Mr T cereal.

I was picked to be on camera. I went backstage and the appraiser looked at it for a few seconds. Once the camera was running, the appraiser said that the collectible had several different groups of collectors that would be interested in it. Advertising collectors, black memorabilia collectors & cereal box collectors would be interested in the display. She then qualified her positive opinion of the desirability of the item by stating her opinion of the value. She said that the standup display was worth about $30. I could of disagreed with her on camera, but I just kept my mouth shut. The host asked if I wanted to take bids. I told him I would listen to offers. The offers were in the same price range as the on air appraisal. I didn't take the offers.

I felt the appraiser purposedly made an incredibly low appraisal so that an accomplice could make a bid.

As a side note, I found it interesting that Duane Dimock sold his two cereal boxes for $5,000. A little over a year ago, I sold a Frosty O's cereal box with Dudley Do Right for $1,200 at TV TOY MEMORIES (http://www.tvtoymemories.com/) I had wrongly believed that I held the record for the highest priced collectible cereal box that had been sold.

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JohnnyJ Feb. 13, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m.

FUN STORY TO READ. MINDY, IF ARTIST WAS PETER MAX, WHO ALWAYS GIVES DRAWINGS INSTEAD OF PAYING PEOPLE FOR THINGS, NOT WORTH ALL THAT MUCH.

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