Many people attend my appraisal events with family heirlooms or flea market finds but there are some audience members that just like to watch the show. While my appraisal style is unlike anything you’ve seen in the antiques world, my audience likes to hear about history and partake in my rapid fire, informative, funny, and totally unscripted events.
When I am not taping Auction Kings for the Discovery channel and serving as their expert appraiser, I am on the road looking at America's antiques. Here are some of the stories from the latest round of touring the country as America's Appraiser presenting Dr. Lori’s Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show.
ome objects are worth big bucks and other objects have big stories to tell. From locales far and wide, these are America’s stories.
Estero, FL: A woman named Beverly brought in a $6,000 sterling silver gravy boat made by the esteemed designer Georg Jensen. She said she didn’t care much for her mother in law who gave it to her, but she sure liked her gravy.
Denver, CO: A guy named Jeff who said he’d rather eat mud than go to a yard sale bought an 1850s era quilt from a yard sale for $20 and brought it to me for an evaluation. It was an Amish-made Rose of Sharon pattern textile worth $8,500.
Seattle, WA: A waiter named Kelly served a big table of diners and did not receive a tip. Instead, the diners left a small bag on the table with a Native American turquoise and silver squash blossom necklace. After a month of waiting for the owners to return to the restaurant to pick up the necklace, the owner told Kelly that the necklace was his tip. It was worth $5,000.
Tulsa, OK: I was rendered speechless--a first for me--when I saw an amazing Albrecht Durer print among the objects for me to appraise. I got very, very quiet when I realized that an audience member had brought in an authentic Durer work of art dating to the 1500s. It was a magnificent piece of Renaissance art produced by the artist best known as the “German Leonardo.” The lovely owner told me that it was a gift from her deceased friend who collected old master prints. And, a masterpiece it was--worth $60,000-$75,000.
Portland, OR: While cleaning out her aunt’s house, Cathy discovered a Walt Disney animation cel from the 1940s. Appraised value: $9,000.
St. Louis, MO: Seven year old Corinne wanted me to appraise her cell phone to see if her mother loved her or her nine year old sister more… Truth be told, both those little girls have a better cell phone than I do.
Mt. Carmel, PA: A woman showed me her circa 1920s platinum, diamond, and sapphire ring that was an anniversary gift from her husband. She said that her husband got it from “Blackie at the pool hall.” That Art Deco piece of pool hall jewelry was worth $25,000.
Washington, DC: A gentleman who made it clear that he was not a tea drinker brought me an 18th Century French-made sterling silver samovar produced for the Russian court of Catherine the Great. It was worth $15,000.
State College, PA: A gentleman in his 90s whose family had links to the Plimoth colony brought a teapot that came over on the Mayflower. With significant information and the documentation to prove it, the silver teapot was worth $150,000.
Houston, TX: A lawyer named Ray and his wife Robin were having a heated discussion over a beat-up upholstered chair that Ray bought at a yard sale. He wanted to try a new hobby, furniture re-upholstery, so he had stored the chair in their garage in anticipation of starting the project. Robin, fed up with the situation that left her car outside, told him to start the re-upholstery project or trash the chair. So, Ray started ripping off the old upholstery only to find two pieces of cardboard inside the back of the chair with a work of art sandwiched in between them. The work of art was brought to me for evaluation. It was a French Impressionist drawing by Edgar Degas depicting ballet dancers worth $100,000.
Bloomsburg, PA: I will never forget the man who yelled at me when I told him that his glass Ball canning jar was not rare. It was marked 1858 on the side. The owner believed it was the first one ever made—it wasn’t! Value: $8.
Seattle, WA: Mai Lin brought me a French Impressionist watercolor by the artist, Eugene Boudin that her father got in payment of a debt. He ran a dry goods shop in Hong Kong during World War II. The watercolor was left to him in exchange for a payment. The piece was valued at $17,500—there aren’t enough dry goods on earth to make that a fair deal.
Scranton, PA: A couple in their 80s brought an American Impressionist landscape painting to one of my events. While waiting for the event to begin, they were approached by two young men who offered to buy the painting from them on the spot. They offered the couple $8,000 for the painting and urged them not to have me appraise it. They rejected the offer. I appraised it and it was worth $100,000. Sometimes you don’t want to take the first offer you hear.
Tulsa, OK: As a Connecticut native, I couldn’t resist wearing--with the owner’s permission--a real western sheriff’s badge. A woman brought in a US Marshal’s gold sheriff’s badge from the Oklahoma territory, circa 1906-07. It was worth $1,000. It’s not too often that you see one of those in New Haven!
Trenton, NJ: I coaxed a guy named Dan into wearing the strand of pearls that he bought at a Goodwill Thrift Store for $15 and brought in for an appraisal. When I explained that he had a purchased an opera length strand of hand knotted 6 millimeter Mikkimoto cultured pearls dating back to the 1950s worth $2,500 bucks, he ran up to my stage to model them for the audience.
I can safely say at a rate of 20,000 objects a year for the last decade or so correctly identifying and appraising people’s stuff, I have seen it all. The stories are and the owners are just as fabulous as the antique objects that accompany them to my events.