Brian Jackson with his 1899 State Fair of Texas votive holder. (Photos by Rasy Ran)

Brian Jackson with his 1899 State Fair of Texas votive holder. (Photos by Rasy Ran)

When ‘Antiques Roadshow’ comes to Texas, East Dallasites make the trek to showcase their treasures

The old gentleman removed his glasses and brushed away his tears. He stared at the Navajo rug, a family heirloom with Kit Carson lore attached. An expert had just informed the man that the blanket was a “national treasure,” worth about half-a-million dollars.

Sound familiar? Then chances are, you’re a fan of “Antiques Roadshow,” broadcast every Monday evening on Dallas’ KERA-TV.

It’s moments like this that have created loyal viewers. So when the show made a rare tour stop in the area recently, its first time back since 2008, some East Dallas neighbors jumped at the opportunity to learn more about their own family treasures.

 Zach Brewer and his 200-year-old candlestick. (Photo by Rasy Ran)


Zach Brewer and his 200-year-old candlestick. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

Neighbor Melissa Brewer, who grew up haunting antique stores with her mom, attended an “Antiques Roadshow” tour stop in Corpus Christi a few years ago. Her son, Zach, now an 11-year-old sixth-grader at William B. Travis Academy, was intrigued. The gift of a WWI-era toy airplane and some vintage Army men figures had sparked his inner antique lover. “Zach had been asking me when ‘Antiques Roadshow’ would be in Texas again. When I saw they were coming back to Texas, I entered the raffle for tickets.”

They’re a hot commodity, these tickets. So much so that they are available only by application. Would you believe about 19,000 people applied for the 3,000 pairs of tickets that were doled out for this taping?

Melissa and Zach are fans. “I record all the episodes and watch it when I can,” says Melissa, while her son catches it “a couple of times a month.”

Brian Jackson, resident of Junius Heights, is another fan. “I’ve been watching that show since I was in high school, 20-plus years, and I record it in case I miss it,” he says. “I’m an estate sale junkie, spending my weekends hunting down art, coins and forgotten tchotchkes.”

Precious tickets in hand, they headed over to Fort Worth for the show at a designated entry time and were greeted with lines, lines and more lines. Undaunted, most attending used the time to chat with others and gawk at their treasures: oil paintings of cats, Grandpa’s Navy uniform, Kewpie dolls, vintage Grateful Dead posters, pie safes, Super Bowl rings — the list goes on. “We saw a lot of guns and paintings,” remembers Melissa. “And a lot of antique toys including a tin roller coaster.”

First stop was the generalist table. “We met with a person who categorized our items,” Melissa says. “He gave us a ticket for each item, which told us which appraisers we would see.”

Each ticket holder was allowed to bring two items — which would ultimately be evaluated and appraised by one of 70 experts in 24 specialties. Melissa and Zach toted an old iron candleholder and an abacus from Japan. Brian’s pyrographic cane stand earned a folk art designation, while his glass votive holder etched with “Dallas Fair 1899” would ultimately wind up at the collectibles table.

Armed with category tickets, they headed to more lines in an adjoining exhibit hall. In the center of the hall was a large, mysterious circular space, concealed by tall screens. Turns out it was the “set,” an inner sanctum of lights, camera and action only a few would enter.

Lining the space inside were tables for the various categories: pottery, sports memorabilia or toy, where appraisers sat ready to examine items, offer up history and give a value. Days were made, bubbles were burst, and pretty much everything in between.

“It wasn’t really about the value,” says Melissa. “We brought items we weren’t able to find any information about online.”

And they did indeed learn. “The appraiser told us the candleholder was from the late 1700s to early 1800s and thought it was probably made in Massachusetts where it was bought. He said it was a unique design — he hadn’t seen one like it before.” The abacus, it turned out, was from the 1920s. Neither item had a high value, but it was information Melissa and Zach were most interested in anyway.

Brian didn’t strike it rich on his cane stand, a purchase from an estate sale. “I learned that pyrography kits were sold at the turn of the century” with designs pre-printed on the wood. “It was worth about $125 and I still love it.”

His 1899 votive holder from what was then known as the Texas State Fair & Dallas Exposition was rare, but not terribly valuable. That’s OK; it was handed down from Brian’s grandmother, so he planned to keep the antique ruby flash glass piece in his family regardless of the value.

None of these East Dallas neighbors were chosen for a televised segment, but they all enjoyed the Antiques Roadshow experience. Brian adds, though, “I wanted to see someone surprised at the worth of their ‘treasure.’ Alas, I could only hear gasps of excitement and mumbling from the central tent.”

Three episodes from the tour stop will be produced and broadcast in the spring. Be on the lookout for familiar faces in the background.

The Brewer family acquired the abacus from an antique store in Tokyo, and is estimated to have been made in the 1920s. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

The Brewer family acquired the abacus from an antique store in Tokyo, and is estimated to have been made in the 1920s. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

The 17th-century light was an heirloom from Zachary and Melissa’s grandmother, and originated in Massachusetts. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

The 17th-century light was an heirloom from Zachary and Melissa’s grandmother, and originated in Massachusetts. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

East Dallas resident Brian Jackson went to the Antique Roadshow held in Fort Worth this past summer. Jackson brought an 1899 Dallas Fair candle holder, and an antique cane holder. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

East Dallas resident Brian Jackson went to the Antique Roadshow held in Fort Worth this past summer. Jackson brought an 1899 Dallas Fair candle holder, and an antique cane holder. (Photo by Rasy Ran)