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Grace Under Pressure

Grace Under Pressure

Suzanne Perrault “On Tour” with Antiques Roadshow

29 July 2016

Partner and Co-Director of Rago’s 20th/21st C. Design Department, Suzanne Perrault has spent most of her life working in the arts. She began her career as a gallery assistant at Barton Kaplan Antiques in NYC before joining David Rago in founding Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, New Jersey. Suzanne is an author, lecturer and expert appraiser of decorative ceramics and porcelain for Antiques Roadshow, a true aficionado and an undeniable presence, on screen and off.

With filming for the upcoming season of Antiques Roadshow coming to a close, we sat down with Suzanne to discuss what it’s been like to be part of this hit television show. Here’s what she had to say:

How long have you been serving as an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow?
About twenty years. I started out at the triage table, which I did for many seasons, until Aida Moreno (the original director) posted me at the Pottery and Porcelain table.

What do you think makes Antiques Roadshow so interesting?
As a viewer who also works on Roadshow I’ve enjoyed witnessing my friends and colleagues develop the ability to relate to people they have never met, manage their expectations, then spin a story and appraise an item under the pressure of knowing they may soon be viewed by millions people.

What do you like best about appearing on the Antiques Roadshow?
Simply being associated with such a respected educational program on a television station with the highest ethical standards I know of is an honor.

Is there anything you dislike about appearing on Antiques Roadshow?
Disappointing guests who expected higher market value for their family heirlooms.

What is the most memorable piece you’ve appraised for Antiques Roadshow?
A set of Aesthetic Movement china by Viellard in Burgundy. Identifying it properly required the assistance of many colleagues. Sebastian Clarke, who was not working for Rago at the time, was the one who solved that puzzle. It was terrific fun for me.

What is the most memorable appraisal reaction you’ve seen from a guest?
A jovial lady, who must have been in her 70’s, greeted my appraisal of her inexpensive covered pottery jar with the relieved and completely un-ironic proclamation, “Well, I’m so glad it’s not worth more than that! Now I can put my husband’s ashes in it! I was looking for something appropriate.”

Can you tell me something about filming for Antiques Roadshow that the typical viewer wouldn’t know?
What you see on television is a highly edited version of 1% of what goes on during those Saturdays. Appraisers do not spend their days in front of the cameras. Appraisers spend their days behind 8’ folding tables looking at objects that are mostly worth under $50. There are many times we don’t get recorded for a center (4-camera) shot.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
My finest moments on set have been spent with Louise Miller, our beloved makeup artist. She is a balm of humor, kindness and beauty, greeting appraisers who are often frazzled and rehearsing their opening lines, or doing last-minute research just before they tape a center shot. The experience of the make-up chair, part spa, part womb, is a truly unique one on such difficult days, and I strongly believe most of the appraisers share my feelings about this.

This concludes our interview series exploring the role our appraisers play on Antiques Roadshow and the experiences they have on tour. Tune into Antiques Roadshow on your local PBS affiliate to experience the drama of discovery for yourself.

Do you own pottery or porcelain that you are looking to have appraised for auction? Get in touch with Suzanne Perrault.