Interesting stories heard at appraisals
Venus is more than a celestial body. Venus is one of the most popular classical figures in the history of art. Venus, the goddess of love and gardens, gets a lot of press this time of year.
In Renaissance art, Venus’ image adorned the headboards of the beds belonging to the famous Medici family of Florence. By the Victorian period, bronze sculptures of the classical beauty were all the rage. In the 1940s, pin-up girls were depicted in the famed Venus pose with palms slyly covering breasts.
At more than 150 antiques appraisal events all over the world every year, I tell people what they’ve got and what it is really worth. A fine sculpture of Venus was ushered into a recent appraisal event by two lovely ladies, the sculpture’s owners.
My appraisal approach is plain, simple and straightforward. Many people say they have never seen anything like my appraisal show — unlike the boring events presented by some other appraisers. My unique approach, along with my unexpected flair for the comedic, has attracted standing room only audiences to my totally unscripted appraisal events for more than 15 years at venues worldwide. People know that if I am coming to their town, they better get their stuff out of the attic and have me take a look at it. After years in major museums and on the road giving on the spot appraisals, people know that they want to learn about their antiques from the honest, leading authority in the country, not some antiquing guru or appraiser wannabe.
Recently, I appraised a Belleek sculpture of a Crouching Venus for 13-year-old Jess and her mom, Holly. Jess keeps the sculpture in her closet so her pets don’t get at it, and her mom says that it is a good place to keep the sculpture safe. They were right since the piece was in fine condition, dating from the late 1800s, and it didn’t have a scratch on it. The black mark on the underside of the sculpture was used by Belleek starting in 1891, and it indicated the age and origin of the piece.
In 1891, the McKinley Act became law in America indicating that any goods imported into the United States had to specify their country of origin. So, the Belleek firm complied with a new black mark that included a ribbon banner and the words “Co Fermanagh Ireland.”
As Dad looked on, Jess and her mom were shocked to learn her sculpture is worth $10,000 to $15,000 on the retail market. Some similar pieces in only fair condition have sold at wholesale auctions for $5,000.
Some of the other notable antiques and collectibles I appraised recently during my Antiques Appraisal Comedy Tour at sites far and wide included:
Pittsburgh: A $50,000 baseball signed by Honus Wagner from the early 1900s when the Pittsburgh Pirates were the baseball team to beat.
Evansville, Ind.: An Art Deco diamond and gold brooch that belonged to 12-year-old Madison (she had just received it from her grandmother) worth $1,500.
Deal, N.J.: A ship model exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universalle in Paris complete with documents from the famous World’s Fair worth $3,000.
Charlotte, N.C.: A European miniature painting worth $8,000.
Rochester, N.Y.: A Dutch still life oil painting of flowers worth $100,000.
Akron, Ohio: A World War II Nazi dagger worth $800.
Indianapolis: A souvenir coin from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 (a.k.a., Chicago World’s Fair) worth $250.
Philadelphia: An original work of art of the Birds of America by John J. Audubon, in excellent condition, circa 1834 worth $30,000.
Suffice it to say, my shows are not your traditional boring antiques appraisal events with some stuffy appraiser, some flowery language and a magnifying loop. People don’t wait in line tirelessly. either. Audiences are informed and entertained. These events are a historical circus of sorts. starring me, the audience members and the stories gleaned from their antiques. At my events, we laugh, we learn and we make some new friends — some human, some man-made, and some, like the Venus sculpture, from out of this world.
(Dr. Lori Verderame presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide. Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Auction Kings on Discovery channel. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or call (888) 431-1010.)