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Trash or treasure? Californians travel to Antiques Roadshow in Sacramento to find out

See the treasures brought for Antiques Roadshow’s visit to Sacramento

Thousands bring family heirlooms and garage-sale finds to Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum during a production of Antiques Roadshow on Monday, May 13, 2019, hoping that their treasures be worth a surprising amount.
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Thousands bring family heirlooms and garage-sale finds to Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum during a production of Antiques Roadshow on Monday, May 13, 2019, hoping that their treasures be worth a surprising amount.

Californians from all over the state made the trek to Sacramento on Monday to find out whether their family heirlooms, antiquing finds and attic clutter could make them rich.

Hundreds of excited people lined the sidewalk outside the Crocker Art Museum, their arms full of old paintings, furniture, jewelry and more. They were all there to have items appraised during a taping of Antiques Roadshow, the popular PBS show where everyday people find out the value of their antique possessions.

Only the most valuable and storied antiques make it to air, but everyone that managed to get tickets could have their items professionally appraised. The tickets are free but limited in quantity, so appraisers have time to look over all the items.

Mary Hillwagner, a huge Roadshow fan who flew to Sacramento from Montclair, said scoring tickets made her feel like she had already won something. She said her experience was everything she wanted it to be, and that meeting fellow fans in line was the cherry on top.

“Everyone is so friendly and happy to be in the room, whatever the thing is worth,” Hillwagner said. “It was like Disneyland for adults, including the lines. ... It was just so much fun, I can’t even begin to tell you.”

While the line was long, structured entry times and a jovial atmosphere made it enjoyable for the guests, with people sharing the stories behind their antiques with each other as they waited.

David Castro brought a pair of matching paintings, portraits of a husband and wife. He said his wife found the paintings in Stockbridge, Mass., where the wife was for sale and the husband was crumpled up, about to be thrown out. Castro believes the man in the painting is Samuel F.B. Morse, who is credited with the invention of the telegraph.

“They’ve been with us for a while, and we wanted to find out more about them,” Castro said. “We think they’re from between 1872 and 1885.”

Brothers Bob and Ed Wright brought an original animation cel from the making of Cinderella, a gift from Walt Disney to their great-uncle Jack. Jack was Disney’s realtor, and sold him a home at Smoketree Ranch in Palm Springs, Ed Wright said.

They also brought an original cartoon poster from 1949 that portrays Smoketree Ranch, including a depiction of Jack and a representation of Disney as Mickey Mouse.

Rich and Debbie Hershey drove out from Hollister with several items, including many belonging to Rich’s late mother. Debbie unfurled a large map of California from 1926 that showed railroad lines instead of roads, and Rich held an old reproduced painting of George Washington from a school in Gilroy.

“Apparently in 1921, Congress passed a law saying all schools had to have a portrait of Washington,” Rich Hershey said. “We want to find out if that’s true.”

Catherine Welsh brought her great-great-grandfather’s Civil War diary. The book was rewritten and reproduced as “A Civil War Drummer Boy: The Diary of William Bircher” for school curriculum, but Welsh has the original, which was passed down through her family.

Whether any of the items were appraised for high prices will be revealed when the Sacramento episodes of Antiques Roadshow air on PBS next year.

Hillwagner said none of her items appraised at high prices, but she was thrilled nonetheless. A painting by a Korean installation artist she found at a garage sale for $5 appraised for $150, and a jewelry box she found for $3 appraised for $90.

“The appraisers, they act like they’re giving you bad news,” Hillwagner said. “... But that’s $145 I didn’t have yesterday!”

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