News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

March 3, 2014

LIZ CIANCONE: Antiques show better than any modern programs

TERRE HAUTE — I’m not a big fan of television. What passes as comedy these days seems either vulgar of sophomoric, and I really don’t want to go to bed and have my sleep interrupted by dreams of murder and mayhem. If a gun goes off, my television does too.

Once I get past the local news and weather, I’m ready to call it a day and pick up a book.

However, on the recommendation of a friend, I began watching “Antiques Roadshow” and I find I am hooked. My Best Friend kindly accommodates this newfound enthusiasm, but then I try to accommodate his favorites too — like the Chicago Cubs games. Of course, he made a Cubs fan of me when on one of our early dates he took me to Wrigley Field. It snowed.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the game, or the company, and I still do even with the addition of Chicago Bears games and the occasional dollop of basketball or hockey — the Chicago teams, of course.

But it’s the “Antiques Roadshow” I watch with an interested eye. Since I am the oldest surviving member of my family, a good many of the family treasures have ended up in my closet. Like so many of the folks who bring their stuff to be evaluated, I prefer to hand it down to the next generation, along with whatever stories and traditions are included, but I do like to wonder if Grandma’s bit of cut glass is really worth all she thought it was.

One thing I have noticed, the experts show a marked difference in the value of items classified as “antique” or what they call “collectible” goodies. I’ve seen things I think are truly beautiful turn out to be worth a lot less in their estimation — than stuff I wouldn’t want to give houseroom to. I don’t care what it’s worth, if it isn’t attractive, I’m not interested.

Not long ago someone brought in the shirt of a baseball uniform along with a scorecard from a minor league game. The shirt was rather the worse for wear, but it had been worn by Willie Mays in his last game as a minor league player. Sports memorabilia always seems to be a big ticket item and the “value” of that shirt to a collector about blew me away.

Hey, maybe my BF was on to something when he took me to that Cubs game. He made a Cubs fan out of No. 2 son, and I wonder if the kid still has that baseball my BF caught off the bat of Detroit’s second baseman when he fouled a pitch from Tommy John.

My brother has a collectible baseball, too. When Mike was in Vietnam he learned that his idol, Stan Musial, was to visit the troops. Somehow Mike got a baseball and lined up to have Musial sign it. He did. Then he passed it to another player who was also “entertaining the troops.” Mike was disappointed that Musial’s signature was thereby compromised, but now he is delighted. The rookie with Musial who also signed the ball was Hank Aaron.

So beautiful or merely collectible, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay. But it’s fun to see what the “experts” think.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.

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