July 21, 2011 at 8:29 a.m.
When Christy and Vince Marier moved into their historic house on Chisago Lake, a dining table and a nature scene print came with that deal, which for them is a good thing. The table piqued the curiosity of appraisers at the popular Antiques Roadshow t.v. series. The print, though, was the surprise of the appraisal experience.
Antiques Roadshow is educational and reality television rolled into one. It is the hub around which revolves a constellation of promotional public broadcasting website, books, tapes and guest appearances.
The Roadshow doesn't tape in Minnesota very often, and when it comes to town tickets are hard to get. Because of tightly-controlled supply and the huge demand few who request tickets actually get one.
Having something you own featured in a videotaped appraisal segment for the show, is even rarer still.
The Mariers, of Chisago City, managed to land an appraisal and tickets this month when Roadshow was at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Vince credits Christy with doing all the legwork to electronically submit photos and info for the appraisers' consideration.
Show producers contacted the Mariers in May to work out the details.
Vince says the hard part was getting the huge table to Minneapolis, "I don't think it's been out of the house in over 100 years." Roadshow movers arrived to transport the table from their house in Chisago City the Thursday before the show. The table sits at six feet in diameter but with braces extended-- and if leaves were inserted-- it could go to about a 20 foot oval, Vince explained. "It weighs two to three hundred pounds, so it wasn't easy getting it into their truck."
The table came with the house when the Mariers moved in years ago. Nobody seems to know where it came from, who made it or if it had matching chairs and partner pieces. Vince spoke with a historian/author Moira Harris and she recalls seeing the stuffed moosehead (another item that came with the house) as a small child visiting the lakehome, but not the table.
Marier's place is known as the Muller Cabin, and in a different century was part of an extensive Hamm's brewery family compound, where they summered on Chisago Lake.
Vince said when PBS responded to the on-line application and photos researchers for the show thought the table came out of the James J. Hill mansion collection. Work done in advance of the Roadshow taping didn't come up with a Hill mansion connection, however.
"All we know is it is custom made, between 1875 and 1885," said Vince. "I've been all over that table and can't find any marks, and the appraiser didn't find anything to tell him who made it either."
Vince had to promise not to say how much the table was valued at-- it's supposed to be a surprise when the show airs early in 2012. He will say that the family can go ahead and keep using it and not fear damaging a priceless object.
Roadshow ticket holders are allowed to bring up to four items and the Mariers grabbed some smaller objects on their way out the door-- a set of old pipes, a watch and a print of Yosemite that was found in the basement of the house. Vince said the print turned out to be more valuable than he guessed.
The taping itself was a well-oiled machine. The Mariers arrived about 7 a.m. and were directed to the green room; where 10 people waited their turn for an appraisal. Only three of the 10 were videotaped. Even now, Vince doesn't know for certain if his segment will air in 2012. PBS shot three episodes' worth of footage that Saturday, he was told.
Vince found it interesting how much time the production crew spent on setting up appropriate lighting and getting the tight shots of the table's intricate carvings.
He got t.v. make-up so he would look okay on camera, but was not really coached on what to say or what the appraisal would be in advance. They want you to be surprised, he said.