- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) - There’s something about the program Antiques Roadshow that sends us to our attics and closets - at least mentally - to rummage around for hidden treasure. Of course, the majority of our stuff is just that. On a few, rare occasions, someone really does come up with something valuable.

That was Melody MacLachlan’s experience this past June, when she grabbed a couple of items and headed off to Spokane with her son, Richard, in hopes of a few minutes’ time with the show’s expert appraisers. Turns out, she was told she made the cut and will be featured on one of the PBS television episodes scheduled for January of the new year.

While one of the items was of little interest to the appraisers, an Asian-inspired ceramic teapot and cups - a gift received in 1978 from Big Fork, Montana potter David Shaner - pulled MacLachlan right into the inner circle.

“My main reason for going and having it appraised was so that my kids would know the value,” she said. “Someday, when I’m gone, I wouldn’t want them to sell it at a garage sale for five bucks.”

After being notified they had been selected in an online lottery, the MacLachlans arrived early and landed a spot near the front of the line. Several thousand people attended, but only a fraction made it through the pre-screening process. Of those candidates, a mere 35 were chosen for filming.

The middle of the room was set up as a kind of impromptu television studio, with the outer perimeter made up of multiple appraisal stations, each designated to a certain specialty.

“They sent me to a specific area in the collectibles section,” said MacLachlan. “I walked up, took my teapot out and the appraiser said, ‘Tell me what you know about this.’”

She explained that her father had been a friend of Shaner’s and that she had grown up around the potter’s family. For that reason, being in the artist’s shop and watching him create his work had been no big deal as a kid. She had heard he was well known in ceramics circles, but was about to find out exactly how well known.

The appraiser listened intently to her story and then asked MacLachlan and her son to wait a moment while he pulled in a second expert.

“They were talking secretly in the background,” she said. “That’s when I had an inkling that maybe they were interested.”

When they instructed her to bring the teapot and cups to the filming area, she knew the big reveal was going to happen on camera. According to MacLachlan, her son “went nuts” when he heard his mom and her collectibles had been given the nod.

“He was bouncing around like Tigger,” she said. “That was the best part, watching Richard’s reaction.”

MacLachlan signed an agreement with Antiques Roadshow not to divulge how much the items are worth before the program airs in January. It was, however, several thousand dollars more than she expected, partly because she was so accustomed to seeing Shaner’s work while she was growing up.

“We would go into his pottery shed and watch him when we were teenagers,” she said. “And we always ate on his dishes when we had dinner there.”

More significant than the monetary value was the information she gained while visiting with the appraiser on camera.

“He told me all about (Shaner’s) background and his work and told me that his pottery was Japanese influenced, which was news to me,” said MacLachlan.

In terms of recalling much more about the filmed conversation, MacLachlan isn’t much help - her head was spinning by that time.

“I honestly don’t remember much of what he told me,” she said. “I just kind of sat there and smiled.

“To tell you the truth, I mostly saw it as a chance to have a fun day in Spokane with my son,” she added.

For those of us who suspect the reactions on Antiques Roadshow might be staged, MacLachlan said that’s not the case. She received no coaching and wasn’t prompted to act surprised or shocked once the cameras started rolling.

The appraiser, on the other hand, was quite animated due to his interest in Shaner’s pottery.

“I don’t know if I gave them the kind of reaction they wanted,” MacLachlan said. Joking that she “might end up on the cutting room floor” for lack of a dramatic response, MacLachlan feels that the potter’s reputation will probably carry the day and ensure a segment on the show.

“I was a little nervous about wanting to represent the Shaner family well, because I know them so well,” she said.

“But I had no idea that he was so famous - he was just a friend of my dad’s. I found out that anybody who is seriously into pottery knows the name David Shaner.”


Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, https://www.bonnercountydailybee.com

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