Photo courtesy Antiques Roadshow
Antiques Roadshow , the PBS program that gives us all a little hope that our attic contains hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of a forgotten heirloom, made its way through Richmond in August. Matthew Quinn, the owner of a thriving Virginia-based auction company, gave us some insight into what it's like to be a Roadshow appraiser. R•Home: How did you get into the antiques business? Matthew Quinn: To some degree, I was born into it. My mother had two boys, so she started collecting dolls, and when she had too many of those, she started an antique shop. That shop turned into an antique mall, which turned into an auction house in 1995. R•Home: But how does one go from a doll-filled antique shop to a hit TV show? Quinn: I had the opportunity in 2009 be an appraiser in San Diego. I wasn't sure what to expect. It ended up being a great day. And I realized that I really loved it. The show's producers must have liked me, so it evolved into one more show that season, then two shows in Season 14, five in 15, four in 16, and seven in 18. This year we were in Detroit, Jacksonville, Boise, Kansas City, Knoxville, Baton Rouge and Richmond. R•Home: How do you prepare for visiting a new city for the show? Quinn: What's fascinating is that you never know what you're going to find in any city. Every night before a show, we're sitting around at dinner and we're talking about what we're going to see. When we knew we were heading to Richmond, some of the Civil War buffs brushed up on their history … but then you prepare like that, and that kind of thing just doesn't show up! We're always surprised at what comes through the door. In Jacksonville, we found an old Virginia map that cost tens of thousands of dollars. It was such a great find. R•Home: Did you see a lot of one type of thing in Richmond? Or were you surprised with a variety? Quinn: I was working in the decorative arts section, and I saw the normal things. But then a Wythe County basket came in — something a lot of people wouldn't have recognized if they weren't from Virginia, as they were only made in a tiny area of the state. Rarely are we able to predict what we see, especially in the decorative arts. In some degree we see more Southern heritage in the Southern states, and maybe more classical items. We saw fewer Asian items than we would in a place like Northern Virginia. The tables [for military antiques] had longer lines here than they would in other parts of the country, though. R•Home: Were there any other notable pieces? Quinn: Ken Farmer [of Southwest Virginia] appraised a nice Norfolk chest of drawers. The show always tries to find local-interest stories wherever we are, and the chest and the basket were both two uniquely Virginia pieces that were really nice to see. R•Home: You have galleries all over the state, although not in Richmond. You must know better than anyone what Virginians are looking for compared to what they already have. And do we have things lurking in our attics that people from other states want? How does Richmond hold up to those regional trends? Quinn: Richmond's a really underserved market when it comes to antiques, and we've actually been looking towards opening an auction here in the coming years. A lot of people want to get into Richmond, and there's no one really doing it currently. But even locally, the global trends are always true. Nostalgia runs a lot of our buying, with cycles running about 30 to 60 years. Today it's Midcentury Modern, so things that were really normal in the 1950s are going absolutely crazy right now. Who knows what's going to come next? R•Home: Be honest, did you start filming that day, hoping to see something that had belonged to Thomas Jefferson? Quinn: We do live to treasure hunt! Our job is to find a thing that's valuable, and to educate you and educate the public. We're treasure hunters all day long, and that's what gets us out of bed. In Richmond, Antiques Roadshow airs on Community Idea Stations Mondays at 8 p.m.