Years ago, I discovered an old, dusty vase beneath the stairs in the basement of the home where I grew up. My mother asked, “Do you want that old thing?” I liked its design (magnolias adorn its surface, which is mostly green — one of my favorite colors).
When friends saw it in my living room, they told me it was a valuable piece of Roseville pottery. I took it to an appraiser and sure enough, that old, dust-collecting vase from my parents’ cellar was valued at $450 for its stellar condition and 1940s heritage from the renowned Ohio pottery, which opened in the late 1800s (it’s no longer in business).
Maybe you have a dusty vase or decorative object, and you wonder about its history and value.
On Friday, an Antique Appraisal event by Detroit-based DuMouchelles will take place at the Troy Community Center. Eventgoers can bring up to three items for appraiser Ernest duMouchelle to review. He’ll discuss the items’ values and backgrounds.
What's Hot, What's Not
Appraisals often delight or shock people, said Manya Basile of Manya Basile Personal Property Appraisals, based in Birmingham. Her independent appraisal firm specializes in fine and decorative arts.
“Over the last 10 years, the market for antiques has shifted," Basile said. "Furniture and decorative objects from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries have not gone up in value at the rate they once did. The market has remained level, due in part to the economy and a shift in collecting interests.
"People are often surprised that their objects have not increased as they might have expected.”
Before having anything appraised, it’s always a good idea to have a general idea of what’s hot and what’s not.
Basile, who sees more than 1,000 objects sell over the course of a year, is in tune with the national and international markets. Here's what’s hot according to her:
Patch: It seems the mid-century craze has been hot for a while. Is that still going on?
Basile: “Yes. Collectors are currently interested in mid-century (1950s-70s) furniture, decorative objects and contemporary art and sculpture. We see a lot of it in this area.”
Patch: Are there any Chinese items that have gone up in value?
Basile: “Chinese objects such as porcelain, jade, ivory (though there are restrictions on the sale and transport of ivory), cloisonne and art are seeing a rise in value. Also, the Chinese are active buyers in the American market.”
Patch: And what about silver?
Basile: “The price of silver has been very high over the last year. Some silver objects and flatware are being bought and sold for the melt-down value. Works from Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, for example, have increased in value due to not only the price of silver but also because of its integral value.”
Sometimes having appraisal isn't so easy
It was easy to have my small piece of pottery appraised, but something like, say, a fireplace surround, could be more difficult, unless you arrange to have an appraiser come to your home.
That’s the case for Barb Biess of Dearborn. “We ‘inherited’ an old hand-carved fireplace surround from the previous owner of our house,” explained Biess, a stylist for the Carlisle and Per Se Collections and owner of a marketing/consulting business.
Purchased at DuMouchelles in Detroit, the surround is allegedly from 17th-century France. “I have no way to verify that,” Biess said. “The homeowner’s children told us of its history. We would love to have it appraised but it is not 'portable.’ ”
Although it’s a little dark for Biess’ taste, she managed to make the best of the surround by adding handmade tiles created by local artist JoAnn Aquinto to the area that surrounds it.
About the appraisal event
When: Friday, April 20
Where: The Troy Community Center, 3179 Livernois
Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 pm.
Fee: $7 per item.
Registration: Register at the Community Center’s Recreation Administration Desk.
More information: (248) 524-3484
For more information on Manya Basile Personal Property Appraisals, call (248) 346-0434. For more information on Stefek’s Ltd. Auctioneers & Appraisers of Grosse Pointe Farms, call (313) 881-1800.