My wife and I are huge fans of Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Well, I’m a huge fan and she’s kind enough to put up with me. I’ve been a loyal follower for years, and was excited to find out that they were coming to Raleigh in 2009, since I had a couple of items I’d considered having their appraisers take a look at. But one thing led to another, and when the time came to get tickets, we let it slide. Good thing too, since there were more people trying to get tickets for this series than for any of their previous visits anywhere else in the nation, and a few thousand people waited in line for hour after hour to have their fortune told to them.
So when the episode finally aired last week, we were excited, but we also had mixed feelings. We are proud Southerners and were nervous that our friends and neighbors wouldn’t fare so well on national television. Yes, our childhood featured shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hee Haw“. However, for me in particular, I think this fear came to a head a few years ago after hearing our state Attorney General on national radio use the phrase: “all y’allses”…..(No, I probably didn’t spell that right. But it wasn’t “all y’all” or even “all y’all’s” (the acceptable plural possessive). It was….. well, it was “all y’allses”. She later went to prison. I kid you not.
Anyway, for the most part our fears were unfounded, and the show was most enjoyable. But I admit that I did have to wonder why the gentleman involved in the exchange below didn’t do some homework on his family heirloom before looking six shades of stupid on national television:
GUEST: I brought in a… what I think is a Confederate frock coat that I was told belonged to my great-great-grandfather, who was a general in the Civil War. However, I have not been able to authenticate it exactly that it was his, but am trying to do that.
APPRAISER: What makes you think it is a Civil War coat?
GUEST: It has the CSA on the buttons. It looks like a Civil War coat that I’ve seen on the Internet, and I just assumed that it was.
APPRAISER: It’s visually just a beautiful coat. It has a perfect cut, it is called a frock coat, because it’s the long gentleman-style coat. It has the double row of buttons, being a double-breasted frock coat. It has the single star insignia. And what does the single star mean?
GUEST: I had always thought it meant that it was a brigadier general, but I was surprised to find out that it was a major.
APPRAISER: And where the difference comes is in the Union insignia, a single star does mean brigadier general. But in the Confederacy, it means major. I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some not-so-good news.
APPRAISER: It’s not his Civil War coat.
APPRAISER: We know that very quickly. Because if you notice up here, what do we have? Behind the dry cleaner’s tag.
GUEST: A label.
APPRAISER: We’ve got the label “M.C. Lilley.”
APPRAISER: M.C. Lilley wasn’t in business until after the Civil War. They were in Cincinnati, Ohio.
APPRAISER: And this is the classic style coat that you would buy from Lilley. They actually had them in the back of the Confederate Veteran magazine. And the buttons have “UCV” around the flag, which lets us know that it’s United Confederate Veterans, which is the reunion organization of Confederate soldiers from the Civil War. [And the buttons indicate] the dates of the war– 1861 to 1865.
APPRAISER: That’s another thing that we know it wasn’t his during the war, because they wouldn’t have known when the end [of the war] was going to be……………
No, it’s not quite like finding an ancient Roman coin inscribed “250 B.C.”.
But it’s close.
I did do some minor editing, but here’s the full exchange.