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Antiques Roadshow Faux Pas

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“Up next on Antiques Roadshow: Hitler’s gonads!”

When is an “antique” an antique? Meaning, when is an object transformed into a curiosity, stripped of its original context and turned into a product? Like in this case:

    FEDERAL officials want to know how an Ohio man got hold of a controversial letter -dating back to the 1970 Kent State shootings – which was appraised on PBS’ last week’s “Antiques Roadshow.”

    The letter was the “Statement of Regret” signed by the 28 defendants in the civil trial that followed the shootings on the Kent State University campus where four students were killed.

    On last week’s episode, the document’s owner, Steve Thomas, the son of the federal judge who presided over the civil case, showed a Sotheby’s appraiser the letter and asked how much it was worth.

    The appraiser eye-balled the signatures of Ohio Gov. James A. Rhodes and Ohio National Guard Adjt. Gen. Sylvester Del Corso on the document, and said it was worth insuring for between $10,000 and $15,000. [NY Post]

The feds asked how he got it.

    Thomas said that his father, William Thomas, was given the document as a gift from one of the defense attorneys. The judge, seeing it as an achievement of diplomacy, framed it and hung it on his living room wall.

Apart from how the guy got it, not enough time has passed for this document to have been stripped of its emotional impact on the friends and loved ones of the shooting victims. This was in very bad taste and Thomas never should have been allowed on the show.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Brenda Trainor

    Ilive in canada ,I have a123year old mandolin and case, not perfect conditon. how can i find out the value. [Personal contact info deleted] I have been searching the web, but so many differnt answers. please help! Thanks

  • Did you know that the average Canadian has only one testicle? (The actual number is closer to 0.96 – using a round number seemed appropriate in this context.)

  • Eric Olsen

    Howard, that’s an interesting perspective, but the question is when does something become “history,” and therefore legit for something like this. I don’t think it’s immediate when there are such intense personal emotions wrapped up with it – it just seems like the pain outweighs the gain in this instance.

  • Eric, my friend, I disagree.

    AR is a show that both entertains and educates. It is about history as much as it’s about artifacts. This document is an important piece of history, and if it prompts discussion and reflection on an important and powerful recent event, then I say good. AR has done its job.

  • i should clarify as well: the one that should have been discussed off camera was the kent state letter. the girl is the one who kneeled over one of the people killed at kent state–the photo is world famous.

  • Eric Olsen

    On a serious note, my point was that none of this beongs on an “entertainment” TV show, that we know they screen antique owners before they come on the show, and that it was terribly insensitive to have this letter appraised on the show.

  • thanks gents, nothing says good morning like a discussion of hitler’s testicle(s).

    i think that one could have better been discussed off-camera, but on the other hand, would we want to ban the picture of the horrified girl kneeling over one of the victims?

  • Eric Olsen

    Visionary! the private sector is ALWAYS more efficient than the public sector.

  • Joe

    Well, yes.

    I actually tried to solicit the Antiques Road Show to go to Baghdad in an attempt to reclaim the antiquities lost from the National Museum. Unfortunately, the Keno brothers won’t accept my phone calls. It could work, I tell you!

  • Eric Olsen

    Excellent point, Joe! That reminds me, we had a big-ass Samoyed who wanted to be good but was driven insane by a third testicle.

  • Joe

    Shouldn’t that be gonad, singular?