The Antiques Roadshow has been one of the most popular shows on Public Television for well over a decade.
But that popularity has bred imitators.
And the people with the show are urging antique lovers to be very careful who they show their precious items to.
Collectors Line Up for Roadshow
The famous PBS Antiques Roadshow stopped in 6 cities each summer. For several thousand lucky people, it is a rare chance to have a true expert look over their old collectibles.
Todd Darling had his fingers crossed, telling us, "I really just want to find out about my painting, and what it's worth."
For other folks, it was classic figurines, old cameras, even vintage weapons like the sword Paul Sickler brought.
"I brought my dad's old Samuri sword he brought back from the war in 1954, " Sickler said.
But most of us never get a chance for tickets to the Antiques Roadshow, especially since just a fraction of the people who apply for tickets actually get in.
Instead, we see and hear ads for dozens of imitators, that stop in town after town every year. Their logos even look like the PBS show, so there is plenty of confusion. And many of us "head on down" to a convention center or hotel ballroom, hoping to make some money.
The big difference? These other shows offer you money, and are making a profit.
Marksha Bemko, Executive Producer of the PBS show, says if a traveling show is offering to buy your collectible, they will usually lowball you.
"Anybody who is telling you what your object is worth should not have an interest in buying it, period," she said.
Instead, she suggests calling local antique and auction houses and ask who can give an independent appraisal.
Bemko told us "your historical societies, auction houses, museums and all are doing appraisal fairs, with minimum costs. Sometimes it's free." She suggests getting two estimates before you part with any collectible.
You can also get an idea for its value by looking at similar items on eBay.
However, Benko says if the buyer is also the appraiser, you may end up giving away your valuables for a pennies on the dollar.
The Bottom Line
Most of us will never get into the Antiques Roadshow for an appraisal. But that's no reason to sell your goods to the first traveling show that comes to town this year.
But every town has an antique shop where someone will be happy to look at what you have and give you an honest opinion, without resorting to traveling shows.
That way you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
"Like" John Matarese on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter (@DWYM)