TV antique shows like Flog IT might be entertaining, but they’re rather light when it comes to the everyday antiques in demand by many, such as Victorian dining chairs and antique bookcases. BBC’s Restoration Roadshow, on the other hand, welcomes them with open hands – and the tattier the better.
Viewers in Preston with Victorian dining chairs to mend were delighted when the very first show aired in August 2010 – from Stonyhurst College in Lancashire. Two upholstered antique dining chairs , distinctly past their best, were among the items brought in for appraisal by members of the public. They were lovingly restored back to their full beauty by the show’s expert, so the owner could decide whether to sell at auction or keep them for posterity.
The cost of restoration was met by the owner themselves. Restoration Roadshow isn’t a competition, so there are no “teams” vying for prizes or scoring points at auction. Instead, owners are given an honest appraisal of their damaged heirlooms, told what the restoration will cost and advised whether the cost is worth it. Often, the answer is “No, it isn’t,” but owners happily pay up to have the work done anyway. Most of the antique desks and cabinets go home again, unlike “Cash In The Attic”-type shows, where the onus is to flog your family heirlooms for whatever you can get at auction, and put the money towards a holiday.
BBC2 is currently reshowing Restoration Roadshow on weekday afternoons. The Lancashire edition aired on March 14th, and although it’s unfortunately unavailable on BBC’s iPlayer, plenty of other episodes are. Watch, and you’ll learn just what is involved for an antique dealer in Preston to bring his antique desks and other antiques up to star quality.
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