This forgotten 1940s TV show was essentially the original 'Antiques Roadshow'
For early collectors, this show sparked a new form of 'must-see TV.'
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As hugely popular shows like Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers have proven, people love looking at random stuff and learning what it's worth.
Interestingly enough, What's It Worth?, was the name of one of the earliest shows to pioneer this trend — in 1948, more than 30 years before Antiques Roadshow would premiere.
The host was juggernaut art appraiser Sigmund Rothschild, whose expertise was sought after by celebrity collectors like Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, and Ira Gershwin, historical foundations like the Smithsonian Institute and the New-York Historical Society, and even giant corporations like General Foods and Mobil Oil. Everyone trusted his eye, and, even more amazingly, he was totally self-taught.
Rothschild's show What's It Worth? debuted in 1948 and was later renamed Trash or Treasure. It invited viewers to come onto the show to have their items appraised by this top authority. Where modern shows consult an array of field experts, Rothschild's word was as good as gold to collectors trying to value their precious items back in the day.
His book A Beginner's Guide to Antiques and Collectibles was published in 1989, and he finished his career as a lecturer at New York University, influencing countless collectors who came after and changing the definition of 'must-see TV' for collectibles-obsessed viewers.