Don't judge an antique by its monetary value

Susan Manzke
While Sweet Sue and Howdy Doody didn't bring rate a huge appraisal at the Antique Roadshow, the memories of the dolls are priceless to Susan Manzke.

Public television fans, like Bob and me, know what the Antiques Roadshow is all about. If you’re not into public television, Antiques Roadshow has experts appraise antiques and collectibles for people hoping to find something worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Months ago an email announced that Antiques Roadshow was going to be in Green Bay. Everyone had a chance at tickets that would be given away in a lottery. Of course, I entered—as did over 16,000 others. In April I found out I hadn’t won tickets.

I then received an email telling me that PBS was looking for volunteers to work the one day show for 13 hours of walking and/or standing work!

That 13 hours of standing made me think hard about volunteering, but not too long. This would be my one chance to get behind the scenes AND also have two items appraised for my efforts. I applied and was taken as a volunteer.

My next problem was what to bring. It had to be something small, or kept in my car until it was time for my appraisal at the end of the day. Jewelry would have worked if I had anything special, which I don’t. Coins seemed a good choice, but I found out that they didn’t appraise coins.

I decided on a doll handed down to me from my Aunt Mary Ann when I was a kid. Another unusual doll would go along as my second choice.

On Friday, volunteers gathered for a two-hour orientation at the Resch Center and Shopko Hall. I went with the 59 people who would be involved on the production floor. My job was to be at the end of the long line heading to Prints and Posters. I was to punch tickets and allow visitors to join the line on set when there was room—after orientation we were allowed to take photos on the set, but not the following day when everyone was there.

Public Television enthusiast and columnist Susan Manzke visits the Antique Roadshow.

Volunteers arrived about 6 a.m. that Saturday. We ate breakfast and went right to work starting our 13 hour shift. Being at the head of the Prints and Poster line I visited with hundreds of people as they waited their turn. I talked to people from Chicago, Lansing, Minneapolis, besides Appleton, Shawano, Janesville, and all parts of Wisconsin.

After five hours of standing, someone from the production staff took pity on me and gave me a chair. I only used it when absolutely necessary—when seated I couldn’t see my cohort waving to me to send more people from my line forward. Still, even a minute or two off my feet helped.

I had a lunch break, and after four o’clock I was given the chance to bring my dolls in to be appraised—volunteers were slipped into the front of lines so we could quickly return to work.

The appraiser started to tell me why my dolls weren’t worth much.

I told him that I knew they weren’t pristine and weren’t of any real value. I just wanted to know more about my doll. She had red hair like I used to have, like my aunt used to have, too—my aunt and I are gray, but the doll has her same red hair.

Marshall Thomas Martin, the doll appraiser, gave me a great gift. He told me that my doll was made after WWII. She was a plastic American Character doll. The best part was her name. She’s called Sweet Sue!

My Sweet Sue is only worth $45, but that’s okay. To me she’s priceless.

My other treasured doll from my youth in the 50s was a Howdy Doody marionette. He’s only worth $20. Howdy is made from composite materials, which is why he has so many cracks.

If ever Antique Roadshow returns to our area I will try for tickets, but if I don’t get them, I’d volunteer again. It was a great adventure. Thanks Antique Roadshow and Public Television.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;