I know that a bunch of people have given you advice on what to do and I think you should do whatever you want. I don't know much about furniture or antique fish tanks but I know a lot about cars. There are 3 ways to keep cars valuable and I think each philosophy would be an appropriate way to look at the tank.
Original-Keep it as is. Original is only a good idea if the condition is right. I can not tell how good it will look original but you would only do a basic clean up and fix any problems that prevent it from working.
Restored-Restore it to it's original glory. Depending on condition, that may mean getting it polished or replated. Glass would be replaced where not reusable and sealed cosmetically correctly, even if you used a more modern sealant.
Restomodded-Restored and modified. This is, for many, the best of both worlds but in the car world, only valuable when done to a very high standard. I would think you would want to replace all glass with high clarity, reseal to a very high standard. Replate the tank if polishing won't be enough. Clear powder coat it to bright it up to today's standards so no water chemistry issues will arise. Powder coat the stand part and redo any wood.
I just think using one of the 3 philosophies above will get you the best experience without guilt. Again, I don't know how that would affect value but if you did sell, I would think someone would appreciate any of the 3, as long as it was done to a high standard, and would be willing to pay good money.
That's wack about American Restoration. My GF and I thought about going on a show when we purchased a house as we thought it would be fun but only if it was for financial benefit. We found very quickly that it was really setup for those who just wanted to be on TV, any financial gain or other sponsor involvement was absolutely minimal. It would have cost us more money to be on the show than to not be, not that we were ever accepted, just though it would have been fun but it didn't turn out to be a great idea for people who don't want 5 min of fame.
Condition isn't right so no sense in keeping it original.
I'm going to try to go the restoration route.
The only part I plan to do as far as restomodding is to use a modern pump and filter. It would be difficult to find an original working pump and filters were not used when this tank was made.
I'm embarrased to say that I've done nothing to the tank since my last post. I've looked it over some more and decided I need to try to dismantle the aquarium in order to restore it. There are hex nuts at each corner on the bottom of the tank sealed with some kind of black tar. I need to remove the tar to unscrew the hex nuts which should allow removal of the 4 sides, glass, and bottom. I can already remove the top. Thought of possibly having the parts then taken to a professional to have the bronze oxidation/corrosion cleaned off. Not sure if they dip it in chemicals or soda or bead blast them. I need to see if I can remove the top to the stand as it's really corroded but I think it's welded to the four legs.
Still haven't decided if the stand was originally painted black or not. Does seem odd that they would paint brass/bronze but I don't want to remove it if it's original as it's still in pretty good shape. Still wish I knew what the lights underneath were for. Doesn't make sense that they'd be for heat or they would have had a glass or bronze dome for more surface area to increase heat transfer. Since it's just little flat glass windows I think they were just for illumination rather than heating.
The nickle finials on the stand have holes going all the way through them and two are treaded so something was apparantley hanging above or behind the tank originally. Probably will never know for sure but my guess would be some sore of plant holders as several of these early aquariums had plant holders as part of them.
That's an awesome tank.
I'm surprised they were going to make you pay for it yourself.
I was going to be on Tanked! and I was told in a not so straightforward way that they would cover the costs. Wasn't until i found out that they only work with acrylic (i wasn't that familiar with the show at the time) that I backed out.
Finally got around to dismantling the aquarium. All the glass was removed intact which really surprised me. I cleaned out all the old tar sealant, most of which was petrified. The bottom windows were loose but I pried them off only to discover that they had been soldered into place. Will have to take a torch to get the old solder off the bottom of the tank. I'm hoping that they can be reset with black silicone. Now I need to figure how to bring it back to its original finish and seal it with clear cote. There was evidence of the original shellac or varnish on several areas of the brass.