Depressing Dinner Plates: Why 'Antiques Roadshow' Dreads Your Grandmother's China

Jan 12, 2014

Pottery and porcelain expert David Rago says two things are certain when he sees someone pull out a dinner plate.

“I’m going to tell them it’s worth $3 and they’re going to be unhappy.”

That’s why, Rago says, appraising plates is the worst part of his 'Antiques Roadshow' gig. And he says he has to do it a lot. He’s been traveling with the popular PBS show for 18 years. Thousands of people bring antiques to Roadshow tapings, but only a few get to go on air to talk about their family treasures.

Roadshow visited Idaho for the first time last June and once again Rago had to tell a lot of people their grandmothers’ plates were worth $3.

David Rago with a $3 plate in Boise
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

“Since you were knee-high to a grasshopper you’ve been seeing this dinner set in the cupboard of your parent’s home. It comes out twice a year,” Rago explains. “You’ve brought it here, you’ve waited in line, you come in front of me, you put this plate in front of me…and I say ‘how many pieces you have?', and I say 'multiply that by $3.' That’s the worst job I have here. They want to kill me.”

Rago says nobody ever throws china away, so even the rarest plates from the past 200 years aren’t really very rare. He says 99 out of 100 plates he sees are worth $3. He doesn’t like making people unhappy at 'Antiques Roadshow' so dinner plates often bring him down.

Monday night at 7:00 Idaho Public Television will air the second of three 'Antiques Roadshow' episodes filmed in Boise.

Spoiler alert: You probably won’t see a lot of dinner plates.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio