When Antiques Roadshow comes to Alaska, Kenai woman will put her items to the test
Thousands of Alaskans will flock to Anchorage in July with art, dishes, clocks and jewelry in hand, hoping to find out if their personal treasures are secretly valuable. The popular PBS program Antiques Roadshow is coming to Alaska for the first time ever this summer, and some locals plan to present their items to professional appraisers.
One of those hopeful collectors is Kenai local Sarah Pyhala, who is bringing the appraisers a family heirloom, and some art.
“It sounded like their interest was in things that made it to Alaska, from people who were traveling, or moving up here,” she said.
The process for getting a spot on Roadshow required antiquers to enter a lottery, which Pyhala did in January. Each ticket holder can bring two items, or sets of related items called lots.
“And then there are 3000 people that have been awarded tickets, and you can each bring two items,” she said. “So there’s up to 6,000 items that they may be appraising that day.”
Pyhala has picked out two lots: her first is a pair of paintings from Japan, done on silk and framed under glass.
“I remember them being on the wall of my neighbor’s house growing up, and she would have me over for tea and cookies, and I would see them. And when she moved out of her home, her estate sale basically had them up for I think $10. And my mom was over there and she purchased them,” she said. “So it will be interesting to see what, if anything, they’re worth.”
The second item is a stereograph, an antique piece of entertainment technology. It’s like a viewfinder, and the user places a slide with a duplicate image in front of a pair of goggles, which makes the image appear 3D.
The stereograph, patented in 1904, was passed down to Pyhala through her family.
“My great grandparents lived in North Dakota, and during the dust bowl era they were farmers. In 1933, they took their horse-drawn carriage, loaded it up with their four kids at the time, and moved from central North Dakota into Minnesota. This is one of the things they brought with them, which I thought, of all their worldly possessions, was kind of a strange thing to take with them,” she said. “But I’m told that it was similar to a television for them, and it was their entertainment. So in that regard, it made a lot of sense that they would have taken it with them.”
Her stereograph comes with 67 slides, with an array of scenes from places like Rome, Monte Carlo and the U.S. Capitol. One of the slides features what was at the time called “Brush Alaska” and shows men in snowy woods in rural Alaska in 1900, which Pyhala hopes the appraisers will like at the Roadshow.
But she doesn’t have any illusions about her lots being highly appraised — she’s just happy for the chance to go. She said the antique owners will show up in waves early in the morning on July 11 and stand in long lines, waiting to be assigned to one of 20 appraisers.
“If they think that what you have is notable, they’ll take you aside and you have to go through a whole makeup change for the filming,” she said.
Because of the long day of standing, Pyhala said it’s difficult to have a heavy item that you might have to lug around for hours. But with her lightweight items, she’s not too worried about her stamina.
She said she’s been watching old episodes of the show to figure out what to wear. It might be for naught, though: of the 3,000 attendees, only about 50 end up on TV.