Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Antiques Roadshow Takes A Closer Look at American History

While aimlessly flipping the channels a few nights ago, which doesn't happen as much as it used to now that we've upgraded to DVR, I stopped on the Antiques Roadshow.

This show always intrigues me with the background and history associated with each item. The appraisers are often times extremely knowledgeable in history and will associate the piece and how it was made with the era from which it came. To me, this makes the show very much worth watching.

But this night of the Antiques Road Show became especially enjoyable when they focused on a political sign from the 1840 election brought in by a man who inherited it from his family. The story goes that his great-grandmother, had made the sign in support of James K. Polk. The banner was appraised at $5-7,000 at auction.

His father's grandmother, was related to Abraham Lincoln. "One branch of the Lincoln family produced a gentleman by the name of Abraham," he told appraiser Catherine Williamson of Bonham & Butterfields in Los Angeles. "And the other branch of the family produced me."

I find it curious that during that era women weren't allowed to vote. But in the true democratic fashion, this woman decided to take the time to hand paint letters onto a banner which was approximately 15 by 6, using stencils. This was her way of campaigning.

Her favorite, Polk eventually did win the election on his platform of territorial expansion. He favored the annexation of Texas and the acquisition of the entire Oregon Territory, which at that time was shared with Britain. He was also pro-slavery. Polk was obviously the democratic nominee.

On the other hand Clay, representing the Whigs, had lost elections in 1824 and 1832, was against expansion and was anti-slavery. I've always been a big fan of Henry Clay, mostly because he was a man of strong convictions. He was never willing to give up. Known as the Great Compromiser his skill in negotiations staved off the Civil War twice in in 1820 with the Missouri Compromise and again with the Compromise of 1850. He also ran for president 5 times.

But back to the task at hand...

You can see the whole appraisal here:

Who knew the Antiques Roadshow was so Web 2.0. They have archived every appraisal they've done on TV and created a pretty cool search engine to find them too.

I tuned out after that, but was a little upset that I didn't continue watching. What came next was from the personal archives of the White House photographer for JFK.

"I was in Dallas during the horrible assassination," he told appraiser Francis Wahlgren of Christie's in New York as he recounted the details of that day. Once he realized Kennedy had died, he got on the plane with Lyndon Johnson and Jacqueline Kennedy and photographed Johnson's swearing-in ceremony.

The value of that photograph, autographed by LBJ, was $50,000, while a signed photo of the Kennedy family was appraised at $25,000.

And apparently this was THE episode to watch for american history aficianados as a Civil War Henry Repeating rifle was also appraised.


Article about Antiques Roadshow -

Missouri Compromise -
Compromise of 1850 -

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1 comment:

Ryan said...

I was completely unaware that you could check out old Antique Roadshow episodes online. Thanks for the information!
I hardly have time to watch, but I also enjoy it because it shows how the past lived, what they used, etc.
Plus I work part time for someone who handles estate auctions and I find myself sorting through the same type of goodies.

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