At my antiques appraisal shows across the country, I review art, antiques, collectibles and, on occasion, I appraise some oddities. That's right, some of the stuff that people bring me to evaluate is downright odd.
For instance, there was the guy who argued with me over his $8 old glass canning jar during a show in St. Petersburg, Fla. He thought he had the first glass jar ever made by the Ball company because it had a date on it: 1858. He didn't. Many such jars have that date on them.
He had an old glass jar worth about $8 that shows up at nearly every yard sale and thrift store on the planet. He didn't like my appraisal, but he wasn't the first person whose heart I had to break with the truth about an antique.
At an event in Bucks County, Pa., I was asked to appraise a pair of shoes that were worn to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. According to the family folklore, the owner's mother paid a pretty penny for the shoes, which matched a pea-green gown that she wore to the coronation.
I tried to explain that the shoes would have been worth more if they were worn by the Queen on that historic day, but that explanation about provenance didn't go over too well. Appraised value was $550, including the original shoebox. Now that Queen Elizabeth has reached her 60th year on the throne, those shoes decorated with applied ornament that looked like Wedgwood jasperware ceramic are attracting more interest with British collectors.
In Louisville, Ky., I appraised the blueprints to the Jefferson Memorial built on the National Mall. The plans were brought in for appraisal by the grandson of the construction foreman for the famous site.
I told the owner to protect them in an acid free storage box or frame them up to museum standards. They were worth $1,500.
In Seattle, Wash., I appraised a Jim Beam bottle made especially for the 1962 World's Fair held in that city. It featured an embossed image of the fair and the highly recognizable Space Needle.
With these bottles, it's good to have the unbroken seal and the original whiskey inside. All said and done, the bottle was worth $65.
In Columbus, Ohio, I appraised a (quite appropriately) Pre-Columbian polychromed Moche vessel, circa 100-800 AD, for $15,000. No questions asked — a rare piece of Pre-Columbian art is worth big bucks.
Another Columbus, Ohio, fan brought a rare 1880s Swiss music box to my appraisal event. The reason that this piece was rare was because it had a wind-up automaton bird in a cage with real feathers, which moved and sang beautifully.
The owner retained the original key and once we wound that bird up, we couldn't get it to shut up! The music box in perfect condition was worth $8,000 to $12,000.
These and other objects make up the approximately 20,000 objects a year that I appraise during in-home appraisal sessions and public appraisal events nationwide and on cruise ships.
For the public, I conduct more than 100 antiques appraisal events where I teach people what to look for when antiquing, just how much old stuff is really worth and how to negotiate when buying and selling.
While the objects that I evaluate at my antiques appraisal events are fascinating, I am most intrigued by the people and their stories. I hope you'll join me and have something you cherish appraised when I visit your neck of the woods.