The 10-time Emmy award-nominated Antiques Roadshow is PBS’ top-rated prime time series and will be filming for its 17th season this summer. Its 2012 six-city tour takes the cast from Boston, Mass., to Seattle, Wash.
Kevin Mackey, a Three Rivers resident and avid history buff, will attend the event and take some of his treasures to get some expert knowledge on the items and, of course, see how much they are worth.
One of the pieces he’s taking over is a huge portrait of the famed Civil War general, Robert E. Lee.
He acquired the painting through an auction while a college campus was doing some upgrades and updating its attractions.
“I didn’t know if the picture came from a museum or an estate or if it came by someone else’s donation.
“The day before the auction I went in and looked at the picture and immediately knew who it was.
“I went home planning the next day to bid and I figured I’d bid up to $125, that’s about all I could afford. And I knew I wouldn’t get it for that.
“The next day I come back and the auctioneer holds it up. He said, ‘I have a picture of some general, I think it’s Grant’.”
Of course, Gen. Lee commanded the Confederate army, just as Grant was commanding general for the Union.
“I ended up winning the bid for $25.”
Little is known about the artist and how old the actual painting is, though it’s likely that the painting was based on famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady’s portrait of Lee.
Mackey said, “There were a lot of people that had great scorn for him, so there would have been no reason for anyone to paint a picture of him for at least some time. That dates the picture to at least some time between 1860 and 1864.”
With so little known about the portrait, even less is known about the worth of the item.
“I have no idea. That’s why I’m taking it to the Roadshow,” he said.
Another item he’s taking is a smaller, more rare item. And though it may just seem like any other old photo, it’s different in many unique ways.
It’s a picture of an Indian scalping a white man, which was taboo back in the day and adds to its rarity.
“It’s possible it was someone that died and they went in and used the body for the photograph,” Mackey explained.
“It was just one of the photographs that was incredibly politically incorrect so they’re just not out there.”
And he also has some photos of a very famous president in his collection.
“I have two pictures of Abraham Lincoln by Mathew Brady. I have the original photographs from him.”
So with Mackey taking these items, plus a few more, he’ll hopefully find out the long lingering answers to some interesting questions he’s had about the pieces.
And maybe he can find out he’s hauling around a few extra bucks.