'Antiques Roadshow' hits pay dirt
The "Junk in the Trunk 2" special features never-before-seen appraisals from "Antiques Roadshow." The episode airs at 8 p.m. Monday on WQED.
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The things people throw out.
"We get calls every day from people who have pulled stuff out of the trash, out of the Dumpster, that are invaluable objects," said Philip Weiss, owner of Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y.
Such was the case of an old whiskey advertisement brought to a Pittsburgh taping of PBS's "Antiques Roadshow" in August 2011. A woman showed up at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center with the reverse painted glass sign in its original frame.
The woman -- who, per "Antiques Roadshow" policy is not identified -- said she came across it at the site of an old house that was being torn down.
This found treasure is featured in the first of three upcoming "Roadshow" specials, the first of which, "Junk in the Trunk 2" airs Monday at 8 p.m. on WQED. The remaining two are "Cats & Dogs" (Nov. 12) and "Greatest Gifts" (Dec. 17).
These segments were culled from past seasons of the venerable "what-is-it-worth" program.
The sign, produced for the Economy Distilling Co., advertises "Pure Rye and Malt Whiskey." The colors are vivid, set off by silver gilt paint. The sign notes the company, from "Pittsburg," was established by the Harmony Society in 1927.
Mr. Weiss noted there were "some conditions issues in the margins," but otherwise, it was in excellent shape.
"It was really nice," Mr. Weiss said. "Reverse painting glass advertising signs are still very hot on the market.
"Something like that still brings a lot of interest and the best thing is, it was a local brewery."
That such care was taken in creating an advertisement was typical of the era, he said.
"It's like a piece of artwork," Mr. Weiss said. "Back then, things were not machine-made, not mass-produced. People were very proud of what they did. Back then, that was their form of selling their product. So the nicer the sign, the more good-looking it was, it would draw people's interest.
"You look at any of the advertising signs from the turn of the century, with the beautifully colored tin lithography, the reverse painted glass, you can see they really had an eye to do a job that would make people want to buy their products."
"Junk in the Trunk 2" has another eye-catching appraisal from the visit to Pittsburgh. A trunk belonging to burlesque queen Hinda Wausau yielded a collection of her belongings, including a silver satin costume -- discreet snaps hidden in the folds -- and jewelry that, according to local history, once belonged to fan dancer Sally Rand.
Mr. Weiss said that half the fun of visiting certain cities for "Antiques Roadshow" is guessing what, of local interest, the appraisers might find.
"We'll meet the night before and chat with some of the guys. Depending on what table you're on [such as sports, advertising, furniture], the first thing someone said was 'We'll see some Roberto Clemente stuff,' and you think maybe you're going to see some Honus Wagner."
Although Wagner didn't show up, the "The Great One" made the final cut. An unusual autograph on a bat used by Clemente was featured in the PBS broadcasts earlier this year. It was appraised at $25,000.
First Published November 4, 2012 12:00 am