Judith Miller, ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Mainstay, Is Dead at 71


Judith Miller, the writer of standard antiques worth guides and a member of the staff of appraisers who decided what was trash and what was treasure on “Antiques Roadshow,” the beloved long-running BBC program that impressed the American collection of the identical title, died on April 8 in North London. She was 71.

Her husband, John Wainwright, confirmed the demise, in a hospital. He didn’t specify the trigger, saying solely that she died after a brief sickness.

Ms. Miller, identified to the British information media because the queen of collectibles, was typically buttonholed on the road by Britons desirous to share their again tales of Nice-Aunt So-and-So’s bibelots, and at antiques festivals, the place many attendees clutched recent copies of “Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Worth Information” or “Miller’s Collectibles Handbook,” the dual bibles of the antiques and accumulating world. As soon as, Mr. Wainwright recalled, on the reception for his mom’s funeral, a girl approached Ms. Miller and pulled a plate out from below her coat, questioning what it is perhaps value. (He didn’t know the lady, he hastened so as to add.)

Ms. Miller’s books, up to date often, are encyclopedic of their vary and eclectic of their classes. They describe 1000’s of objects — the present antiques version lists greater than 8,000 — every illustrated by a luxurious coloration {photograph}. There have been the standard suspects, like Royal Doulton Artwork Deco teacups and saucers, Meissen pottery, Murano glass and pages of Scandinavian ceramics. However Ms. Miller additionally lined the world of fabric and standard tradition, together with a signed {photograph} of Whoopi Goldberg; a letter from Lyndon B. Johnson on White Home stationery; a primary version of William S. Burroughs’s novel “Bare Lunch”; ’60s-era Barbies; and British utility clothes from the ’40s. There was additionally Inuit artwork, Swinging Sixties vogue, ’50s-era Ferragamo footwear, James Bond books, baseball playing cards, soccer jerseys and what was described because the world’s smallest pen, 1.5 inches lengthy, made by Waterman in 1914.

Riffling by way of a Miller’s collectibles information is scrumptious social historical past, an intriguing romp by way of the many years. A reader might study, for instance, {that a} plastic field purse from the Nineteen Forties in vibrant, jaunty colours took its form from the phone cables that had been used due to the shortages of different supplies within the years after World Conflict II.

A gentle-mannered girl who spoke with a comfortable Scottish burr, Ms. Miller was the skilled in control of “miscellaneous and ceramics” on “Antiques Roadshow,” which started in 1979 and he or she joined in 2007. (The American model first aired in 1997.) One of many treasures she was most happy with figuring out was a group of British Artwork Deco transport posters by the French artist Jean Dupas, which was delivered to the present by a person who had paid 50 pence for them at a yard sale when he was a boy within the Seventies. Ms. Miller estimated their worth at greater than 30,000 kilos (practically $40,000).

“That was a really well-spent 50 p,” she advised the person, who responded with British understatement: “Wow. Gosh.”

Her different favourite discoveries, The Guardian reported, included a stash of two,000 18th-century shoe buckles and a bathroom seat utilized by Winston Churchill.

Ms. Miller was a historical past scholar on the College of Edinburgh when she started shopping for low-cost vintage plates from native junk retailers to brighten up the partitions of her scholar digs. Intrigued by their historical past, she started to analysis and acquire in earnest.

Together with her first husband, Martin Miller, she wrote the primary “Miller’s Antiques Worth Information.” Revealed in 1979, it was an instantaneous success, promoting a whole lot of 1000’s of copies. After the couple divorced within the early Nineties, Ms. Miller continued to provide books on collectibles and antiques; she had accomplished greater than 100 at her demise.

Her personal accumulating ranged from Fifteenth-century porcelain to midcentury fashionable furnishings. She was hooked on auctions, she told The Telegraph: “I get sweaty palms, my coronary heart begins beating quicker, and I begin obvious at anybody bidding in opposition to me.”

She cherished costume jewellery, in addition to items by the Danish silversmith Georg Jensen and chairs, which she purchased in abundance. She was agnostic with regard to interval and most well-liked shopping for single chairs to purchasing units. Her favorites included an 18th-century ladder-back chair, an Arne Jacobsen piece from 1955 and a Queen Anne chair from 1710. When Ms. Miller set out on an antiques expedition, Mr. Wainwright invariably despatched her off with these phrases:

“Repeat after me: We don’t want another single chair.”

Judith Henderson Cairns was born on Sept. 16, 1951, in Galashiels, Scotland. Her father, Andrew Cairns, was a wool purchaser, and her mom, Bertha (Henderson) Cairns, was a homemaker.

Judith grew up in an antiques-free family; she at all times mentioned that her mother and father had been a part of the “Formica technology” and had paid to have their mother and father’ issues carted away after their deaths. She had deliberate to be a historical past instructor, however in 1974 she took a job as an editorial assistant at Mr. Miller’s publishing firm.

After they married in 1978, the Millers launched into a profession of publishing and home flipping; they’d transfer 12 instances in 16 years. In 1985 they purchased Chilston Park, an unlimited property in Kent, England, with no working water or electrical energy, the place they lived for a time with their two younger daughters earlier than turning it right into a luxurious lodge.

Along with Mr. Wainwright, her accomplice for the reason that early Nineties, Ms. Miller is survived by her daughters, Cara and Kristy Miller; her son, Tom Wainwright; and 4 grandchildren.

Cara Miller has been engaged on “The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder,” the primary in a collection of thriller novels to be printed subsequent 12 months for which Judith Miller was each guide and inspiration. At one level Cara requested her mom the essential query: “What vintage would you kill for?” Her reply, as Cara recalled by electronic mail, was “After all for an vintage for somebody to kill over I suppose it must be value an unlimited quantity — a Ming vase, a Fabergé egg — however that’s not practically as attention-grabbing as what merchandise we love and why we adore it. So typically the worth is within the story behind it and what that story means to us.”

In 2020, Ms. Miller advised Fiona Bruce, the host of “Antiques Roadshow,” her personal story of an object she notably valued.

It was a late-Nineteenth-century cranberry glass claret jug. It had belonged, Ms. Miller mentioned, to her great-aunt Lizzie, who had been a downstairs maid at a grand home in Scotland and had married the footman. The jug was a marriage current from the girl of the home. The footman died within the trenches throughout World Conflict I, and Lizzie by no means remarried.

“To her, this was her most treasured object,” Ms. Miller mentioned. “We used to go see her twice per week, and if I used to be a really, excellent woman I used to be allowed to select it up.”

When Nice-Aunt Lizzie died, she left the piece to Ms. Miller.

“I believe on an excellent day it’s value about 40 quid” ($50), she advised Ms. Bruce. “However you’ll be able to’t put a price on the reminiscences.”

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