The smart collector: Set emotion aside to assess value of inherited items

2013-07-21T00:00:00Z The smart collector: Set emotion aside to assess value of inherited itemsDanielle Arnet Tribune Media Services Arizona Daily Star
July 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Q: Can you comment on these antiques that have been handed down through the family? I also need the name of a reputable appraiser in my area.

A: "Smart" customarily covers one reply per customer. But because this query holds a lesson for smart collectors, we'll bend that just once. See if you can figure out why.

One item is a Norwegian immigrant trunk painted in a classic Nordic floral style called rosemaling. Paint details seen in images are skillfully done in limited colors. Differing styles of rosemaling appeal to different buyers. Ornate, intact metalwork is another plus.

But there's at least one area where paint is scraped off the domed top, obliterating some of the imagery. That's a definite flaw that will affect value. On www.liveauctioneers.com we saw recent sales of undamaged rosemaled trunks for around $500. A damaged trunk has far less value.

A Victorian walnut three-drawer dresser looks to be in excellent condition. The chest is topped with an original swinging carved frame mirror plus a pair of intact glove/handkerchief boxes. Carved handles and corner embellishments add to the appeal. But the dresser does not have a white marble top. It may never have had one. Today's buyers pay more for dressers with original white marble tops in excellent condition.

Victorian dressers such as the reader's are a regional taste and sell higher in the South and West. On a good day, this one might go for $300 at auction.

The reader says her Gilbert wooden kitchen clock does not work but she has the keys. The news here is that keys are plentiful and easy to replace, but repairs can be pricey depending on what needs to be done.

Gilbert made reliable kitchen clocks in a multitude of styles with oak or walnut cases like Ford makes trucks. Reliable workhorses, many are still available and many are in use. Recent auction sales range from $35 in oak to $325 for a pristine tall working version in a walnut gingerbread case. Clocks like the reader's sold for about $60.

There is more, but we'll end with a ceramic vase that looks promising. We have no indication of size (it matters), but it looks to be on the large, tall side. Hand painting of a shepherdess and her flock is poorly photographed but could be remarkable. It's hard to tell.

From a written description (images are best) of the bottom mark, the piece seems to be Bohemian, from the Robert Hanke Porcelain Factory. The mark dates from 1900-1918.

But the reader adds that one handle has been broken and re-glued, a definite flaw.

By now, smart collectors understand why we covered the items. Simply put, they might have been promising once, but condition issues and/or lukewarm current market interest zap value for almost all. As is, nothing has significant value.

The lesson is that recipients of inherited goods need to be able to step back and take a hard look at the merchandise. Dead-eye condition and leave emotion, the age of item, how it came over the mountains with ancestors, etc., out of the assessment. Then do basic online and library research for similar items and current value. Get a feel for how those family pieces compare.

Unless the reader has other items that promise value, I don't think that paying an appraiser is necessary. In this case, one is not needed. If written appraisals are still wanted, see below.

FYI: To find a professional appraiser in your area, key: www.appraisersassoc.org (AAA), International Society of Appraisers), www.isa-appraisers.org or American Society of Appraisers (ASA) at www.appraisers.org

COLLECTOR QUIZ

Q: Embroidered textiles from the Arts and Crafts Movement (1860-1910) are significant in what manner? Pick three:

a) Most were done by women.

b) They created groups of standard styles.

c) Most were machine done.

d) Popularity led to a growth in production of pattern kits.

e) They marked a revival of the ancient art of embroidery.

A: Answers are a, d and e. Source: "Arts and Crafts Embroidery," by Laura Euler (Schiffer, $49.99). Covers a growing area of interest today as it was expressed in England, Scotland, and the U.S. Lavishly illustrated and thorough, the book is a must for anyone who would understand arts and crafts.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Home improvement video

Deals, offers & events

View more...