Rhode Island’s public-television station will hold an antiques-discovery show as a February fundraiser that organizers say will be unique in the nation because it will offer as many as 1,200 attendees the rare chance to have written appraisals done on the spot by accredited appraisers.
“Who needs another television show on appraising unless you do it better?” asked Richard Conti, of Conti Appraisal Service in Attleboro. “And we’re doing it better than it has ever been done before. Rhode Island PBS is doing it right.”
Conti, an accredited appraiser in the antiques business for 22 years, is the main force behind the idea because for many years he’s wanted WSBE-TV Channel 36 to hold an event to showcase the art and antique treasures tucked away in Rhode Island, many the product of the state’s rich heritage of nearly 400 years.
As examples he cited Gorham silver from the 19th and early 20th century – made during “the century of splendor,” he said – as well as Townsend and Goddard furniture, the costume jewelry crafted by the Monet, Coro and Trifari factories and paintings by Gilbert Stuart, George Hayes and Maxwell Mays.
Whether any pieces by those famous names will be seen at the Feb. 18 event, “Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show,” remains an open question.
But between 750 and 1,200 people are expected to tote their valuables to the seven-hour marathon at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick for the formal appraisals, according to Lucie M. Raposo, public-information manager for the public-broadcasting station in Providence. Tickets cost $65 each.
Raposo confirmed this is the first time Channel 36 has held such an event and another is tentatively planned for the fall.
The station began offering tickets for the event during a recent televised membership drive, but the show “is not really a pledge event,” according to David W. Piccerelli, president and CEO of WSBE-TV Channel 36. “We launched it during the pledge period because, believe it or not, we really have some of our better audiences during pledge periods.”
The station “has been successful in generating ticket sales [for the show], but this does not have a member-generating purpose,” Piccerelli insisted.
Raposo and Conti readily acknowledged the similarity to the popular British and Boston PBS “Antiques Roadshow” format, but stressed two key differences: everyone who attends with an object to be assessed will get a written appraisal and each appraisal will be done by a certified appraiser.
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