When Antiques Roadshow first debuted on PBS, the premise was simple—people with old items that they either found, purchased or inherited would ask an expert if what they had was worth anything or merely a piece of counterfeit junk. Many on the show were amazed to learn that their possessions were not just the real deal, but worth hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. In rare cases, people had original works of art or antique pieces worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The show quickly caught on like wildfire as viewers were amazed by the substantial amount of money people were getting from old and mediocre looking items. And so the stream of antique-inspired shows was born.
Today, there are dozens of shows similar in nature to Antiques Roadshow, but with a bit of a different spin. The A&E channel recently launched Storage Wars which focuses on a group of people who make their living bidding on abandoned storage units. The fun is watching what these buyers find in these units. Jewelry, sports memorabilia, art work, antiques and many one-of-a-kind items are just a few of the contents that these bidders have found and made profitable.
Pawn Stars on the History channel focuses on a family-owned pawn shop in Las Vegas where the owners buy low and sell high. While the show focuses on more on the behind the scenes drama of the store, it also provides a glimpse into the competitive world of buying and selling antiques and other valuables.
American Pickers, also on the History channel, is a show that focuses on the not so nice side of antiques. Mike and Frank, the show’s stars, are very cunning businessmen who use the ignorance of sellers to buy antiques at the lowest possible price and then sell them at maximum cost. American Pickers shows the more cutthroat side of antiquing.
Other shows that focus on antiques and collectibles include Pawn Queens (TLC), Cash in the Attic (BBC America and HGTV), Auction Hikers (Spike), Oddities (Discovery) and Hollywood Treasure (Syfy). The best part about these shows is not just the wow factor of finding out the worth of these items, but also getting an education on their history, origin and importance.