Jun 30, 2015 04:45PM
By David Williams
The CenturyLink Center Omaha has finally lost its new car smell.
The air in the building’s sprawling convention center took on a decidedly musty quality Saturday as about 5,000 people brought in moldering treasures for the filming of three one-hour episodes of Antiques Roadshow that will air next year on PBS.
I spent the days running up to the event obsessing over which of my favorite possessions I’d take in for an appraisal and finally decided to go with the offbeat and quirky—a mint condition Angela Davis wanted poster issued by the FBI in 1970.
The prominent ‘60s radical was a leader of the Communist Party USA and had close ties with the Black Panther Party. Only the third woman ever to make the FBI’s famed ten most wanted fugitive list, she was being sought for interstate flight, murder, and kidnapping in the aftermath of an armed storming of a California courthouse that left four people dead. Davis wasn’t at the courthouse that day but she owned the weapons used in the incident. She was later arrested, tried, and acquitted on all charges in becoming a civil rights cause célèbre.
I had no illusions as to the value of this ephemeral relic of a more turbulent time and was almost surprised to learn that the same piece recently brought about $100 at auction. Not an earth-shattering price by any means, but a solid return on a $10 purchase made three decades ago. More importantly, appraiser Laura Woolley of the Collector’s Lab in L.A. added a new layer of understanding to my main point of curiosity regarding the wanted poster, that of how to determine if it was an original as opposed to a reproduction.
Easy, she explained of the document carrying the facsimile signature of the legendary J. Edgar Hoover. Holding the piece of paper to the overhead lights, she pointed out a subtle watermark that had previously escaped my attention, perhaps because it competed with Davis’ gigantic orbs of dueling afros.
A small army of staffers from NET worked the event and my guide for the day was Sandi Karstens, the station’s communications coordinator.
“Antiques Roadshow is a hugely popular program and it was exciting to help with the inner workings of how the show comes together,” Karstens said. “People brought in the most interesting things, but the most memorable part of the day for me was hearing all those back stories. Every one of those objects told a story—some big, some small. I know the people of Nebraska and their stories will be well represented when the episodes air.”
Speaking of interesting back stories, the woman behind me in the appraisal line was lugging a garish metal wall sculpture depicting Wile E. Coyote in hot pursuit of its (Beep! Beep!) prey.
“It’s at least 20 years old,” she explained of the “art” that was old enough to drive but not drink, “and it’s a limited edition.”
To each his own, I guess.