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On The Road with Roadshow

Is that an early-19th-century fainting couch? Fans might need it when they line up at the Convention Center this month, when Antiques Roadshow comes to Hawai’i.

Stand for two hours in August heat?

Honolulu will appear on Antiques Road show during the 2007 season, which runs from January to June. For specific air dates, keep an eye out at www.pbs.org.

Nothing deters diehard groupies of Antiques Roadshow. Thousands of Hawai‘i fans applied for tickets to the show, which will be taping at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on Aug. 26. So what should we expect of the event?

“We usually get 4,500 to 5,000 attendees,” says Judy Matthews, the show’s senior publicist. Each attendee will get a brief estimate of the value of his or her antique from one of the 75 or so appraisers staffing the event. The chances of getting on TV are slim, as only 90 out of the 10,000 items seen that day will be filmed.

August marks the first time the 10-year-old, Emmy-nominated program has visited the Islands. “We would like to get to every one of the states,” says executive producer Marsha Bemko. “We are public television and want to make ourselves available.”

The program’s 40 Boston-based staffers, plus the appraisers, will all travel here. The set, tables, lighting truss and other vital items, such as the appraisers’ books and reference materials, are traveling via a truck shipped by boat. “That will arrive about a week before the event,” notes Matthews. “The truck will have a police escort down to the Convention Center, because we’re oversize.”

The show uses about 150 appraisers as a talent pool, and ensures that each of the 24 categories of antiques and collectibles has an appropriate expert. Interestingly, the appraisers are not paid to be on the show, and they pay their own travel expenses. “They see this as a labor of love and a public service,” says Matthews. The visibility doesn’t hurt either, of course.

Appraiser Leigh Keno swoons over an English Regency rosewood settee. photo: courtesy of PBS

David Bonsey, a Hilo High grad, will be working the Honolulu show. He’s the director of fine instruments at Skinner Inc., in Bolton, Mass. Antiques Roadshow has integrity, he says, because appraisers are under strict contract not to solicit business at the show.

Bonsey will film a short segment at Kamaka ‘Ukulele. (His firm recently sold a pineapple-shaped, vintage Kamaka at auction.) He also hopes to find some interesting vintage guitars in the Islands, due to the strong guitar culture here. Other show segments will be filmed at the Doris Duke home, the Queen Emma Summer Palace and ‘Iolani Palace.

Hawaiian artifacts will be handled by antiquities expert Anthony Slayter-Ralph, an independent appraiser based in Santa Barbara, Calif. Two Island-based appraisers have also been booked, including Robyn Buntin, of Robyn Buntin Gallery, and artist/writer Irving Jenkins, known for his books on Hawaiian furniture and calabashes. Additionally, the show’s appraisers have chosen about 12 pieces of furniture from photos submitted by Island viewers. “I’m anxious to see what we’ll find in Hawai‘i,” says Bemko. “Royal objects, koa wood and, of course, New England furniture.”

Bemko suggests attendees “Bring something you are really curious about. Don’t try and second-guess what will make it on TV. There is no secret, magic formula—just come and enjoy the day.”

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,August

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