Thursday, May 20, 2010

Antiques Roadshow at the Hoover Archives

What's it like hosting a camera crew from a major television show? At Hoover we've dealt with them before, including a team from Phoenix TV in China who taped the Stilwell diaries at Hoover for a documentary about Joseph Stilwell. Even so, we were excited when a crew from PBS's Antiques Roadshow was scheduled to tape a segment at Hoover. The show highlighted a few political posters chosen from the more than one hundred thousand in Hoover's poster collection. The segment is scheduled to air on Monday, May 24th 2010 as part of three hours of programming from San Jose; nearly ten million people watch each episode.

As you might expect, many hours of staff time were invested in what will be a clip lasting just a few minutes. That process began months in advance, when we were initially contacted by Roadshow staff, who already knew they wanted to focus on our posters. After the go-ahead was given, our reference staff assisted the Roadshow people. A production scout team visited during the week of the shoot. They looked at possible taping locations in the archives and provided the final list of three posters for the shoot. Their focus was the "pointing finger" motif in World War I recruitment posters.

The day of the shoot was a long one, with the production team at Hoover from 8:30 to 4:30. Much of the morning was spent setting up; the final footage was taped just before lunch. After lunch a smaller Roadshow crew remained to shoot B-roll footage in the stacks and other locations. Two of our staff members signed waivers before being taped in action shots such as typing at a keyboard and opening a poster drawer. We had to deal with some last-minute changes, such as moving the shoot location to a different room. (If Roadshow ever visits your facility, you'll need a room where the air conditioning can be turned off so that its noise does not affect the sound quality.)

Of course, what you're really interested in is the appraisal. The appraiser, Nicholas Lowry, specializes in posters. He said that our poster of Lord Kitchener pointing his finger is the earliest instance of this motif in a recruiting poster. In all Lowry's years of work, he had only seen reproductions of this poster; ours was his first original. Its appraised value? Watch on May 24th.

Political Poster Collection, Italy 17,
Hoover Institution Archives

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