According to www.pbs.org, the award-winning show is in its 16th season. Experts from leading auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s appraise antiques and collectibles.
By chance “Antiques Roadshow” became interested in the Heaths’ round table that sits in the foyer of their home. Inherited by Elliott from his grandmother, Sarah DeSaussure Heath, along with half her belongings, the table was handed down through generations of the DeSaussure family. “It’s a very old South Carolina family that came with the Huguenots back in the 1600s,” Elizabeth said.
Elliot’s family, originally from Camden, S.C., moved to Atlanta by way of Sewanee, Tenn., after the Civil War. When the Great Fire of 1917 destroyed homes in northeast Atlanta, Elliott’s grandmother’s family lost everything and went back to the home place in Camden to get furniture including the table.
The couple was under the impression the table dated back to mid or late 1800s. “When (Elliot’s grandmother) died, everything was appraised in her house (in 2007) and it was appraised as a Victorian piece worth $500,” she said.
But that initial appraisal would soon be challenged in 2011 when Elizabeth won tickets to “Antiques Roadshow” where she would have the opportunity to get a second opinion. “The people you see on the show have won tickets (through a lottery), and they’re the ones carrying things in their hands,” she said.
Elizabeth also found out that ticket holders could submit photos and a brief description of furniture to be considered for the show. “Antiques Roadshow” contacted the Heaths and made arrangements for a licensed mover specializing in transporting antiques to move the table to the Georgia International Convention Center on Camp Creek Parkway in College Park where the show was taped in August 2011.
“I found out later that lots and lots of people apply to get their furniture on the show. It was amazing that we got picked to have our furniture taken down,” Elizabeth said.
Out of 10 initially selected, three pieces were chosen to air on the show. Revelations were in store for the Heaths. An “Antiques Roadshow” expert described the table as an Empire occasional table with “Egyptian Marble top” and Acanthus leaf carvings on the base and anthemion motif. Probably made in Philadelphia in the 1820s, the estimated value of the table at auction was $10,000 to $15,000.
“I was quite surprised,” Elizabeth said. “I thought it would be worth more than $500 because of the appraisal but I had no idea that it was worth that much. It was very exciting. Not that it would matter — we would never get rid of it. It’s a very sentimental piece.”
A portrait of Elliot’s great-great-grandmother accompanied the table to the taping because the Heaths thought she was the original owner. An “Antiques Roadshow” expert determined she could not be since the portrait was most likely painted around 1860.
In addition, experts estimated the value of a handwritten book about tax law circa 1700 to 1840 passed down through the DeSaussure family between $10,000 to $15,000 as well.
“(The book) is old. It’s handwritten. There’s nothing else like it and it’s in pretty good condition considering how old it is,” she said. To view the show, visit the PBS website.