Sunday, March 24, 2019

Finds from Eastern North Carolina Appraisal Fair

Local appraisal fairs, like Antique Roadshow, were extremely popular ten years ago; it seemed like lots of organizations were holding them as fund raisers, community service events and the like.  During the past three years, they have not been as common, and individuals who are looking for a verbal appraisal for a small donation are having a difficult time finding the appraisal fairs.  However, Beaufort County Community College Library recently held a “Trash or Treasures” event in Washington, North Carolina, and it was a wonderful attraction for local residents.  

This appraiser worked the event, and found that there were indeed lot of treasures in Eastern North Carolina.  One lady brought a collection of paper documents, including letters, cards and photographs.  She really did not know what was in the collection, as she just wanted an overall market value for the collection.  Most were vintage low value postcards and Christmas cards. However, when I started seeing hand written letters with dates of 1862 and 1863, it was time to get excited.  She had a grouping of letters from solders which were written during the Civil War.  It was eerie reading their personal accounts of battles, of friends getting wounded, and even their accounts describing some of the generals.  What a treasure!

Patrick Mavros Coaster similar to the one
in the appraisal fair.
Another gentleman brought in a wine bottle coaster; he had  purchased it from an antique store, and it was identified as pewter and priced accordingly.   Well, long story short, it was not pewter but was sterling silver.  After examining the marks, I found the signature of Patrick Mavros and it was hallmarked as African sterling silver.  It was an exotic animal style coaster which was hand crafted of sterling silver; these coasters retail new for over $5,000.00.  So, the gentleman had a true treasure which turned out to be a fabulous purchase!

Of course, there were items that were not treasures, and there were lots of items which were sentimental and had fabulous stories with them!  One gentleman brought in his Sears and Roebuck catalogs which he inherited form his uncle, only to find out that they were reprints!  But he still treasures his catalogs.  Another lady brought books which she thought were valuable, only to find out that they were book club editions and had been reprinted over and over again.

Regardless of whether the item was a treasure of monetary value or a treasure of sentimental value, I think a good time was had by all.  Beaufort County Community College Library provided a great service for the public and the event was even free!  They have an amazing library which is open to the general public; local residents should take advantage of the resource of their community.  When you are in Washington or Bath, stop by the check out the library. Thanks Paula and staff for a well-run and successful appraisal fair!

Vicky Nash Shaw
ISA CAPP Certified Antique and Art Appraiser
919 475-6930

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cheongsam & Chinoiserie!

Me, appear on a radio program????  Radio and TV appearances have not intrigued me in the past, but I did appear recently on “Value This” National Public Radio show on Marcy 20, 2016.  The appraisers  who host the show (Briand and Leon) are friends of mine, and after they invited me to speak,  I thought I would give it a try.  As a guest appraiser on the show for Asian items, I had the opportunity to talk about traditional Chinese clothing, as one of their listener’s had a Cheongsam.  There is no one kind of traditional Chinese garment but the Cheongsam was the formal dress for Chinese men before Western-style suits became common in China.  During the radio show, we talked about them and their values.

Plus, we talked about Chinoiserie!   Many people think that this word for the Asian style of decorative motifs originated in China, but that is not the case.   The word is a derivative of a French word for “Chinese” and is used to reference European and American imitations of Chinese and East Asian artistic designs and motifs.  If you want to correctly pronounce it, the pronunciation is ˌ”SHēnˌwäz(ə)ˈrē”.

So, if you are interested in either of these two subjects, you might want to listen to the podcast of “Value This”!  I must admit that Briand and Leon made my time on the show fun!  They have fun with antiques and collectibles and you may be surprised at what you will learn!  Here is the link to the podcast: 

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP Certified Antique and Art Appraiser 919 475-6930

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Legislation Troubling for Ivory Collectibles

The United States has been a longtime proponent in the fight against illegal ivory trade.  However if changes announced by the current White House administration this month (February 2014) remain unchanged, this announcement will have a huge impact upon the sale of ivory items within the United States.  According to a White House fact sheet, federal agencies have new guidelines drafted which are designed to reduce ivory trafficking.  All commercial import of ivory will be banned, including the import of antique ivory pieces.    Guidelines for the sale of ivory items across state lines will be drafted, and the sale will be limited to items classified as “Antique.”  The guidelines go on to clarify “Antique” as an item which is more than 100 years old and which meets other requirements under the Endangered Species Act.  If guidelines remain unchanged, the onus will now fall on the importer, exporter, or seller to demonstrate that an item meets these criteria.    
So, what does this mean for us?  While all of us support laws against the slaughter of animals, especially elephants, this new law regulating pre-ban ivory goes way beyond effective anti-slaughter efforts. A recent post by The Magazine Antiques indicates that “the rules, say dealers in historic works of art, denigrate cultural heritage while failing to stop poachers, who will likely find ready markets for ivory elsewhere in the world.” The policy change in its current state will have a huge impact upon ivory collectibles market; sales across state lines of elephant ivory items will be limited to items which are over 100 years old only.  To further complicate matters, these new guidelines will be enforced at the state level and this will impact inter-state and intra-state sale if ivory further. 

The variety of ivory items in the market place is huge!  Some items are easily identified as antique, such as Okimono figurines, scrimshaw, snuff bottles and jewelry.  But, even then, the age of ivory of these items will have to be proven before any resale is attempted.  And what about items that have some ivory in their composition, i.e. musical instruments, toys, canes, guns, and the like?  Think about those teapots with ivory insulators; can they be resold or repaired?  What about all of these beautiful mid-20th century carved ivory chess sets?  What about pianos with ivory keys that are less than 100 years old?  The ramifications of the law change are massive.
As collectors and estate executors, it will be your responsibility to accurately identify the type of ivory items you have and their age, prior to attempting any sale.  Preliminary information is non-existent about what Fish & Wildlife or each state will accept as proof of age and legality.  However, documents you may want to begin finding that may be helpful include sales receipts with dates and item descriptions, previous CITES documentation, old appraisals, old photographs with the ivory item, notarized statements from elderly individuals stating how long items have been the family, etc.  Of course, style and age cracks will help identify antique ivory, but often can be difficult, especially when items were revived after World War II.  Under the proposed guidelines, the burden of proof will be on the owner to prove their age.

So, what happens to value if these guidelines remain unchanged?  Many antique ivory pieces are true works of art and will remain collectible unless the government enacts an all-out ivory ban, but will their marketability be the same?   Early Asian carvings such as netsuke, Okimono, screens, jewelry, and snuff bottles have a special beauty unique to themselves and collectors will continue to value these items. The availability and legal sales channels of antique pieces will be limited and it is impossible to predict the impact these new policies will have upon value.  Certainly, newer pieces of ivory carvings lacking documentation run the risk of losing a portion or all of their resale value.
If you are a collector of ivory, take time now to organize your documentation, just in case the policy remains as announced.  You can even register your collection. Estate executors need to be diligent in their search for evidence that documents age.  As an appraiser, I will need your assistance to identify and prove age, especially if the law remains unchanged and the interstate sale of ivory under 100 years old becomes illegal.
There is current pressure on the Obama administration to withdraw the guidelines, and of course, congress could intervene.  It is not too late to contact the president, Fish and Wildlife, your congressional representative and your governor to express your thoughts.    Fish and Wildlife are still working to clarify the policy, so there is time for your voice to be heard. Good intentions protecting endangered wildlife will play havoc with cultural artifacts owned by both private collectors and public institutions, and many of these were items that were carved well before all of us were born.  Again, while all of us are against the slaughter of elephants, banning the trade of historical and cultural items is like “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”  

Other relevant articles and websites include the following:

Vicky Nash Shaw
ISA CAPP, Certified Antique and Art Appraiser
919 475-6930

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Popularity and Trends; they do impact price and value!

I just finished reading an article in the internet newspaper Huffington Post’s column “The Stylelist” about obsolete furniture and decorating items; while I don’t agree entirely with the author on her identification of “obsolete” items, it did get me thinking about current popularity trends and how those trends impact value.

Chippendale Style Table

Value in today’s market is driven purely by what people are willing to pay for an item, and when items are out of vogue or out of style, their value drops. It’s simply that supply and demand thing; if there is a lot of one type of furniture available with little demand, prices drop. That’s why both the insurance replacement cost and fair market value of dining room pieces of furniture is currently low. Many young adults don’t have dining rooms, or are using them for offices or fitness rooms. In addition, demand for all furniture is down due to lack of new homes, lack of second homes and the current empty home inventory.

I was recently working with a client who was downsizing and moving into a smaller home; in her dining room was a hand crafted hunt board by a major furniture manufacturer. She decided to sell the huntboard. This contemporary piece, while it was of superb quality and style, had depreciated since its original purchase, and is now worth only a fraction of its original price. There is not a huge demand for used late 20th century handcrafted sideboards, and therefore the relative value of the piece is low. There is demand at reduced prices, and we were able to sell the piece for the fair market value. However, that fair market value was lower than the value would have been four years ago before the housing market crashed and before dining rooms became out of fashion!

Traditional Dining Room Furniture

The trend is the same with dining room tables, dining room upholstered chairs and china cabinets; without dining rooms to fill , the demand is lessened. Drop leaf tables are another unpopular item right now. When the leaves are folded down, most are not wide enough to accommodate a chair on each side, making them not practical for nooks or small dining areas. So, you use them as decorative pieces in hallways or living rooms, or use them opened as a full table. As a result, values are greatly diminished. Is dining room furniture obsolete, like ringer washing machines? No, not obsolete, just not as popular as in the past.

Desireable Chinese ceramic bowl

If you are currently downsizing, the current lifestyle trends will impact the value of items you liquidate. Many collectibles are hot, others are not. Glassware and crystal is not popular right now, but Asian ceramics and Asian collectibles are in demand. And the list goes on and on. On the flip side, if you are moving into a new house, there are tremendous values to be had on 20th century furniture and other decorative items…..all driven by current popularity trends!

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser 919 475-6930

Monday, May 23, 2011

Commentary on ARTnews article

Contemporary Turkish Rugs
With the recent onslaught of weather related disasters, there’s been a lot of recent media attention to the

 need for appraisals on fine art, antiques and collectibles. And rightly so, as the valuation of art, sterling silver, period furniture and other decorative arts items is virtually impossible if the item is destroyed or lost during a disaster. In a recent article in the May 2011 issue of ARTnews by Eileen Kinsella titled “In Praise of Appraisals” Kinsella interviews several insurance experts about insurance and appraisals, and outlines the need for collectors to have both. In the article various insurance alternatives are discussed, and the need for Insurance appraisals is emphasized.

Sterling Silver

Also discussed in the article is the fact that appraisals need to be current, as values do change. In the article, Vice President Mary Pontillo of the insurance firm DeWitt Stern is quoted as saying “You definitely want to be insured for the value the current market would sustain.” And I agree; appraisals need to be current in order to adequately reflect the replacement cost, as values to fluctuate up and down.

Although the article focuses on fine art, the article and insurance appraisals are applicable to the decorative arts area as well. For example, sterling silver spot prices hit a record breaking high last month, and values for sterling silver hollowware and flatware have increased. It is evident to this appraiser that old purchase records are no longer a good source for determining replacement cost. And values in old insurance appraisals are probably obsolete as well.

In the decorative arts areas, additional insurance coverage may or may not be required, but proof of valuation will always be required in the event of a loss. Ms. Kinsella does discuss the fact that many collectors don’t have items appraised due to the cost involved. And I agree that a lot of collectors don’t have current appraisals as they think appraisals updates are costly.

However, appraisal cost perception is probably unwarranted. I would like to suggest that for most art and decorative arts items, appraisals can be procured at a reasonable cost, especially when considering the value of the item! I offer the following suggestions:

     *Have all of your items appraised at one time. There is a “sunk” cost associated with the appraiser’s writing the core appraisal document, and that cost would be incurred multiple times if you have your items appraised at different times.
     *Procure the services of an experienced and ISA certified appraiser. Don’t waste your money using a least cost appraiser who doesn’t have the right credentials, as it may result in an appraisal that cannot be defended in court in the event of a loss. Appraisals should contain certain elements and be written to USPAP standards, as I have discussed on my website, and using appraisers who don’t adhere to these practices will be a waste of your money.
     *Use an appraiser who archives electronic appraisal records for five years. Our firm retains the document in electronic form, so as values change during a five year period, our clients can have items revalued at a lower cost, as some of the original appraisal information can be reused. As appraisals become outdated, a new appraisal can be obtained at a fraction of the original cost.
     *Get an appraisal estimate in advance. Professional appraisers will normally quote you an hourly rate, but once they see the items and understand exactly what you need to have appraised for insurance purposes, they should be able to provide you with an estimated number of hours.

The other thing that I found missing from the article was the overlooking of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) in the list of appraiser credentialing organizations. ISA is one of only two organizations that test their members on appraisal theory as well as subject matter material AND retest their appraisers on a routine basis. I am a member of this organization, and in order to maintain my certification, I am request to retest every five years.

I appreciate ARTnews addressing the subject of insurance appraisals, and hope that not only art collectors, but collectors of sterling silver, period furniture, Chinese pottery and ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, Asian art, cloisonné and other collectible items will make sure they have current appraisals that not only reflect current valuation but also accurately document the items in the collection, as you never know what can happen to your precious collection.

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser
919 475-6930

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Art In Clay" – The Best of North Carolina Colonial Ceramics

St. Asaph's (Alamance County)  Sugar Bowls

If you like ceramics, have an interest in North Carolina history, or are interested in Moravian and Quaker ceramics, the “Art in Clay” exhibit at MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts) is a must see exhibit. Even if you haven’t previously had an interest in North Carolina redware, this exhibit may pleasantly surprise you.

Moravian Owl Bottle
As the culmination of four years of work, research and study, the “Art in Clay” exhibit showcases early North Carolina pottery by presenting examples from some of the premier collections in the country. Ok, so you’ve seen North Carolina early pottery before, so, what’s the big deal about “Art in Clay”? It’s just mud, correct? Redware? Think again. What makes this project and exhibit unique is that the work and research culminating with the exhibit has literally re-written history. And then there’s the fact that this slip decorated redware North Carolina pottery is some of the most beautiful pottery every made! Plain redware it is not.

Due to the combined efforts between ceramic experts, potters, historians, archeologists, and chemists, this pottery from the Piedmont area has unquestionably been identified, dated and attributed, even reattributed in some instances. Moravian pottery has been appreciated for many years due to its originality, beauty and form, but now we know that some of this previously attributed Moravian pottery was actually made by German immigrants who lived and worked in other areas of North Carolina, particularly in the St. Asaph’s area of Alamance County. That’s what has changed history!

Moravian Aust Shop Sign
And now the WOW factor kicks in; we are talking about highly decorated slip pottery, dating to the 1770’s into the early 1800’s. And this is not plain, glazed pottery, but beautifully decorated and brightly colored pottery. There are not only plates and mugs, but these really cool lidded storage containers that we now know are sugar bowls, animal forms and flasks. Very little of this pottery is signed, and attributions have been made by researching potters’ kiln sites, inventory records and other early documented sources. By comparing signed or known pieces and using pottery sherds from the archeological digs, dating and geographic attribution of the pottery can be determined. And the Moravian Aust shop sign, a cornerstone piece of the exhibit, is a fabulous one of a kind ceramic bowl style sign that will dazzle you when you walk into the exhibit room.

Work by the early Moravian Potters of Aust and Christ are included in the exhibit…no surprise there. But, works by the German potters from the Loy family living and working in the St. Asaph’s area of Alamance County, and works by Quaker Potters, have also been identified and are included in the exhibit. And these Quaker made pieces are also highly decorated and beautiful. There are about 120 items included, many borrowed from private collectors (some being heirs of the original potters), the Henry Ford Museum, MESDA, Colonial Williamsburg and others. And the items from private collections will be returned to their owners at the end of the exhibit; this two year travelling exhibition is the only way to ever see these privately owned pieces.

Punch Bowl
I was fortunate to attend a symposium dedicated to this exhibit, and heard from some of the researchers who worked on this project. There were seminars by ceramics experts, potters, archeologists and historians, all of whom contributed to the research. I participated in special curator led tours of the exhibit, including a tour by Joanna Brown and one by Luke Beckerdite. According to Luke Beckerdite, this collection includes “the best slip decorated colonial ceramics in America.” And coming from a nationally renowned ceramics expert, that’s a pretty good endorsement for North Carolina redware!

And since I am an appraiser, people always ask me about value. Is this old North Carolina pottery valuable? You bet. In 2001, Sotheby’s sold a female figural flask, modeled as a girl standing with a small flower spray clasped before her with her long dress covered in a rich green glaze, and dated 1800 for $31,800 including the buyer’s premium. Now, this is really a one of a kind, very rare item; the other more common pieces are less expensive. In 2010, Brunk Auction sold a simple 7” brown squirrel bottle for $700.00 plus buyer’s premium. And the squirrel had some chips and cracks, and the date was not authenticated! But still, very impressive values!

But this is something you need to see for yourself! We are fortunate that this exhibit is currently at MESDA (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston Salem) and will be there until August 14, 2011. This is a fabulous opportunity to see our North Carolina redware at its best, and to educate yourself about Moravian, St. Asaphs, and Quaker North Carolina pottery. More information on the exhibit can be found at In a future blog post, we’ll talk a little more about how the slipware pottery was made, but don’t miss the opportunity to see the real stuff. As you walk through the exhibit cases, see if you can tell how the Moravian, St. Asaphs, and Quaker pottery differ from each other. And enjoy them for their beauty; they are truly works of art!

Vicky Nash Shaw,
ISA CAPP Certified Antique and Art Appraiser
919 475-6930

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shaw featured at the Regent Relics Roadshow

For the second year, the Durham Regent Community will host a Roadshow style appraisal fair for antiques and collectibles. The Regent Relics Roadshow (Appraisal Fair) will be held on Saturday, August 14th 2010 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm at 3007 Pickett Road, Durham, NC. I (Vicky Nash Shaw) will be one of the featured appraisers.

The cost per item valued is $15.00 for the first three items, and additional items are $10.00 each. Discount certificates for three items may be purchased in advance at the same location during normal business hours. Proceeds for this event will benefit the Shriners' Circus for children and will be also be used for children's school supplies. For more information, contact Becky Vollers @ 919-490-6224.

During the 2009 appraisal fair, the local community brought a wide range of items for valuation. Treasures included furniture, paintings, prints, clocks, WWI collectibles, porcelain, pottery, books, silver and dolls. What's hot in the market right now? Silver flatware and hollowware, gold items, Asian ceramics, and Chinese export silver and porcelain typically command strong values right now.

So, if a quick valuation meets your requirements, this Roadshow style appraisal fair is a good way to receive a general valuation. Time with the appraiser is limited, and no research will be done; however, if you just need general information and a value range, it’s a great way to receive a ballpark valuation for a reasonable donation. It is always a fun afternoon, as the residents of the Durham Regent Community are delightful. I hope to see you there!

(2009 Regent Relics Event.)

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Restoration: Do to or not to do?

One of the most common questions that I am asked has to do with the subject of restoration. Should a piece of furniture be refinished? Should a painting be touched up? Should silver be cleaned? What can I do with works on paper? Items age over time, and sometimes they age well and other times, not so well. Furniture is often nicked or scratched. Paintings often fade or get dirty. Silver and other metals tarnish. So, the answer to the question on restoration is always the same, “It depends!”

There are several factors to consider when making a restoration decision. The first situation often encountered is with unusable items; for example, furniture that is broken or porcelain that is chipped. Factors to consider include the value of the repaired piece, cost of repairs, and their sentimental value to you. If you love a piece and it is unusable in its current condition, then having it repaired is an easy decision.

But what about cosmetic repairs, like refinishing furniture or cleaning paintings? For period(original) hand crafted furniture, refinishing a piece of furniture can often negatively impact the value of the piece, especially if it is a signed piece. Often a varnished finish can be simply cleaned, and you avoid the risk of devaluing the piece by having it refinished. Newer machine made furniture presents another dilemma; if the finish is in less than desirable condition, refinishing it will probably add value. However, then you run into the issue of whether it is cost effective, i.e. will it cost more to refinish it than the item is worth?

Fine art should always be stabilized to prevent further damage. For example, a tear in the painting’s canvas should always be repaired. However, there are a lot of factors to consider before cleaning a painting. Is the painting merely dirty from age, or are their foreign substances on the canvas? Are you keeping the painting or are you planning to liquidate it? If you are planning to sell an original work of art, it is best to leave it un-cleaned and let the buyer make his or her own decisions. If you are keeping the painting and are unhappy with the dirt or the darkness of the painting, have it professionally cleaned. Never, never, never try to clean a work on canvas yourself. Leave that task to the experts, as it is easy to do more harm than good.

Paper conservators can do amazing things with works on paper; mold and mildew can be removed, and even tears can be repaired. Again, the question becomes an economics questions; is the item worth the cost of the repairs? For historically significant documents and for important photographs, restoration is always a good idea. But again, trust only an expert who specializes in paper restoration.

And before you go cleaning your silver, brass and copper items, make sure you know what you have and how cleaning impacts the value. I was working with a client a few years ago, and we were selling some of her sterling silver. She had the sterling silver pieces hand cleaned; afterwards they looked great and the value was enhanced with the light cleaning. However, she unknowingly had a silver and bronze Heinz art vase cleaned, destroying the bulk of the value. In a future blog post we will talk more about the care and cleaning of silver.

So, restore or not? It is a personal decision, but consider the above factors when making your decisions. Always use a professional unless you are trained on the type of repairs or restoration your item requires. If you are unsure about the impact of restoration on the value of an item, contact a qualified appraiser. Most credentialed appraisers will also have experts they can recommend for refinishing and/or for repairs. But most of all, make sure your antiques and collectibles are in a condition for you to use and live with. Antiques and art are meant to be used and loved!

Authentic Appraisal & Estate Services © 2010

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raleigh Antiques Roadshow's Episodes to Air

Just a reminder: remember when Antiques Roadshow was taped in Raleigh during the summer but the program's air dates were not announced during the taping? Now, the episodes are scheduled to air on the first three Mondays in January, with the series season premiere on January 4th. Tune in to your local PBS station to see the Chinese carved jade and celadon from the Chien Lung Dynasty that set a record for the highest appraisal in the program's history! There will be an assortment of treasures from here in North Carolina that should be of interest to everyone! Remember, 8:00 pm!

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA AM
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser
For appraisal information, contact Vicky at 919 475-6930

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A FABulous Affair

In early November, I worked as a featured appraiser in Melbourne's Brevard Cultural A lliance's second annual Fabulous Affair, which is an Antique Roadshow style appraisal fair. The event, sponsored by the Brevard Cultural Alliance of Brevard County, Florida, featured six celebrity appraisers from across the United States. I was fortunate to be one of those appraisers and to participate in this well organized event. Proceeds went to the Cultural Alliance’s Art Fund. The attendance at the event was more than anticipated, and everyone seemed to enjoy learning more about articles from their collections.

The diversity of items for which I provided verbal approximations of value was incredible; there were lots of fabulous treasures belonging to local residents. Many of the items were accompanied by great stories, some had documented historical provenance, and some have been in families for generations.

I valued items in my specialty area and, as I am also a generalist appraiser, I also valued a wide variety of decorative items and collectibles. Overall, I saw around 140 items during the 7 ½ hour appraisal fair. Asian art and ceramics were very prevalent; I saw some of the best Asian paintings that I have seen in my appraisal career, including one with provenance from an early US ambassador. There was also a variety of quality Chinese ceramics, including a Sung dynasty bowl, Chinese export porcelain, and Chinese blue and white porcelain.

I valued a number of Japanese items, including Satsuma pottery, woodblock prints, scrolls, and even an early 19th century Japanese matchlock rifle. And then there were the two fabulous Turkish bracelets with hand painted miniature tiles which were absolutely gorgeous. There was a large assortment of family silver items, including American sterling silver bowls, English sterling flatware and German 800 silver….all items for which their owners should have written appraisals for insurance purposes. One piece of English sterling flatware was a John William Blake hallmarked piece, complete with an 1824 datemark. Also with family provenance were porcelain sets of china and dishes, including some manufactured by some of the best 19th century English and French manufacturers, including Coalport, Worcester and Limoge. One collector had a two Egyptian tomb figurines, including an Ushabti, and while another collector brought two pre-Columbian figurines.

Barbie made her appearance, complete with a dated 1961 vinyl case. There were also German dolls, some quite collectible. Musical instruments were abundant, with the most impressive ones I saw included a 1938 Martin Guitar and a late 18th century signed Holt violin.

As in any appraisal fair, there were lines, but the seating which was provided made the time pass quickly. Organizers from the Brevard Cultural Alliance provided shuttle transportation, had well marked item drop off points, and insured that everyone was directed to the right appraisers, making the day a “FABulous Affair.” Attendees seemed to enjoy seeing items brought to the event by other attendees, and everyone seemed to enjoy the event. The day was long, but was lots of fun for appraisers and collectors alike.
If you want to have some of your collectibles valued at an appraisal fair, watch for local press releases which advertise these types of event. And, be sure you choose an event which features credentialed appraisers by ISA, ASA, or AAA. And never take your collectibles to an event where organizers or appraisers are purchasing items; appraisers at appraisal fairs should always be unbiased, and never have a personal interest in the item they are valuing. If you can not find an appraisal fair, you can always hire an appraiser for a verbal approximation of value; if you have several items, hiring an appraisal for an hour or so can provide you with a wealth of information.

Authentic Appraisal & Estate Services, LLC (c) 2009
Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Appraiser of Personal Property
919 475-6930 email:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A NEW Leonardo da Vinci!

So, could that painting or drawing you found in your attic be a Leonardo? His work is fairly well documented, so a year ago, I would have said no way…..but now? Who knows?

Scientific tools previously used for crime solving are now being applied to art. According to an AP press release, an unsigned chalk, ink and pencil drawing of a young woman has just been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci by identifying a fingerprint and palm print on the paper, and subsequent attribution to him. (The white box on the portrait is the area of the fingerprint. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.) According to Peter Paul Biro, a Montreal forensic art expert, the print of an index finger matched a fingerprint found on Leonardo’s “St. Jerome” in the Vatican. And of course, the style and stylistic nature were appropriate to da Vinci’s work, and carbon dating evidence also indicates it to be an earlier work than 19th century. But the finger print is the proverbial icing on the cake which upon which Biro based his attribution. It seems that Leonardo used his hands frequently, and his fingerprints are found on many of his works. It appears that this is the first major work by Leonardo to have been identified in 100 years.

The work, known as La Bella Principessa” was previously thought to have been created by a 19th century German artist, and it sold two years ago for about $19,000. Now that experts believe the drawing is Leonardo’s, the value has soared. One London art dealer is now valuing the drawing at $150 million!

So, do you have a Leonardo work of art in your attic? Remember, this drawing is a previously documented and named work of art. Having an undocumented work of art be attributed to Leonardo da Vinci is highly unlikely. But, this discovery does remind us that there are hidden treasures out there, they just need to be identified.

If you believe you have a work of art or a decorative arts item that “could” be special, your first step would be to have it inspected by an appraiser who is familiar with the type of item that you have. The retention of a credentialed and certified appraiser is your first step. A qualified appraiser can provide you with basic information about what you have, and what you don’t have. Obviously they can’t attribute a Leonardo with just an inspection, but they can provide you with basic information that you can make further decisions.

An appraiser can often help you understand what you don’t have, and save you from unnecessary expense for further research. For example, I received a call earlier this year from a client who had a Rembrandt painting that she wanted me to value. I questioned her before we made an appointment, and she was certain she had “something valuable and original”. I thought she possibly had a Rembrandt etching, but she was certain it was an oil painting. Unfortunately, she did not have an etching; it was a mid-20th century reproduction print which had little value. So, since she had booked my time, we spent the next hour discussing how to tell the difference between an original painting and lithographic prints. Now, as she hunts and searches through yard sales and auctions, she is better equipped to find a valuable treasure. And she learned that her Rembrandt was a print, before she shipped it to one of the major auction houses at considerable expense.

Other times, an appraiser will deliver good news on that special item. Another client of mine had a silver bowl she no longer wanted, and retained me to help her sell it. The bowl she no longer wanted just happened to be a 1930’s Georg Jensen covered vegetable bowl; quite a find! So, will you find a valuable work of art? Who knows, but everything is possible. There's treasures out there, just waiting to be found and identified. Good hunting!

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA CAPP
Certified Antique and Art Appraiser in Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill

Article Sources: Associated Press and Antique Trader

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Durham Regent "roadshow" style appraisal fair was great success!

Following in the footsteps of the Raleigh Antiques Roadshow, the Durham Regent Retirement Community hosted an appraisal fair on August 4th. Open to both Regent residents and the local Durham community, the fair had a steady line of people for the three hour event. A wide array of items were valued; notable items included, a Springfield rifle, a Persian gold armor set, pair of period Windsor chairs, pair of mid-20th century Japanese presentation vases, German and English porcelain, and notable original oil paintings.

Becky Vollers, event coordinator reported "Our Durham Regent Retirement's) first appraisal fair was a wonderful and exciting experience. This event was filled with unforgettable memories.”

Antique and art appraiser Vicky Nash Shaw (blog author) was the featured appraiser. I provided valuations for about 40 customers and for about 150 items. Not only did I see some unusual treasures, but I heard some fabulous stories about the items. It was a fun appraisal event. Several individuals brought valuable treasures and collectibles which were unique and one of a kind…..many were items that need insurance appraisals for documentation in the event of a loss. Becky Vollers, event coordinator, also added “A special Thank You to Vicky Nash Shaw for her kindness and participation in this event.” The Durham Regent Community residents have a tradition of supporting the community, and proceeds from the appraisal fair benefited both
school children and the local Ronald McDonald home. The retirement community is located on Pickett Road in Durham; the management office as well as Becky Vollers can be reached at 919 490-6224.

Local appraiser Vicky Nash Shaw can be reached at 919 474-6930 or through her website at
©2009 Vicky Nash Shaw

Vicky Nash Shaw, ISA AM
Accredited Antique and Art Appraiser
Downsizing & Brokering Consultant