Arts & Antiques: Great antique finds at fun-filled events

Dr. Lori Verderame

At more than 150 events every year entitled Dr. Lori’s Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show, I appraise audience members’ heirlooms and antiques. I talk about history mostly and values too. Nothing is vetted beforehand as I appraise and authenticate objects on the spot at my events. I don’t know what object is going to be put in front of me at any of my appearances. I appraise and educate using years of experience in museums, universities, a Ph.D. in art and antiques history and all of the experience that I glean from what happens with regular folks out in the field. I employ simple logic and lots of laughter. I tell it like it is. If it is a piece of junk, I say it’s junk. If it is fantastic, I get just as excited as the owner.

Dr. Lori presenting her appraisal event

Over the years, my appraisal events have surprised my audiences and me. Just last week at my event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I spotted a rare French Impressionist painting by Eugene Boudin, a mentor to Claude Monet, that was purchased at auction in a box lot for $5. The painting was first brought to another appraiser who didn’t know what it was and then it was presented to me in front of my live audience. The outcome was I told the owner seated in my audience that he had a rare French painting from the 1870s worth $150,000. I’ve discovered a multi-million dollar trinket belonging to Napoleon, a moon boot that went into space on Apollo 13 with astronaut Jim Lovell, and George Washington’s 1775 wallet among other historical artifacts at my events over the years.

Recently during my appraisal events, I discovered some treasures among the trash. People brought me objects including silver candle sticks, sports memorabilia, signed Nasa log books, rocking chairs, table top music boxes, jewelry and oil paintings.

An original Walt Disney animation cel depicting Jiminy Cricket from original 1940s classic movie,"Pinocchio," was a show stopper. The animation art piece was worth $15,000 based on the market where similar pieces have sold. The owner said it was just always on the wall of her childhood home.

Ann brought me a cast metal sculpture of a female figure that was signed and numbered by the artist. She had purchased it at a yard sale for a few dollars and when I told her it was a famous work by a well-known artist worth $5,000, she asked me if I was sure -- about 50 times. She just kept saying “Are you sure?” After I reminded her how many books I’ve written on sculpture and how many objects I appraise every year — approximately 20,000 — she realized that I was sure!

Audience member Bobbie was thrilled to hear that she had a characteristic Art Deco work of art by Louis Icart worth $3,000.

A nice guy named Calvin, who works cleaning out houses, agreed with me that people throw away good stuff. I appraised Calvin’s sterling silver Tiffany bowl found in a dumpster at $500 and a 1950s Patek Phillippe wristwatch pulled from the trash worth $1,000.

Tyre, a fan of History channel’s "The Curse of Oak Island,' told me that he was just as happy to meet me in person because he loves the history that I share on the No.1 hit TV show. He was also happy to find out that his 19th century Japanese woodblock print brought back from World War II was worth $2,000.

And lovely Judy knew it wasn’t child’s play when I appraised her early 20th century German wooden toy circus with numerous animals in perfect condition for $1,500.

I am happy with the continued interest in antiques among millennials and other young people like Adah, 11, who was doing a school project to research whether her mom’s Beanie Baby was “a fake or worth a fortune.” She came to my event to interview me for her school project. She told me that she really enjoyed learning about history at the appraisal event and to see everyone else’s antiques.

Also, many millennials and newlywed couples bring me objects to appraise and identify. Most 20 and 30 year olds are quite interested in vintage design, chic interiors, repurposing projects, vintage object and antique collecting. Many young couples participated in my appraisal shows to find out what to buy at yard sales, how to spot a valuable antique or family heirloom, how to get an item of high quality and usefulness, to decide whether they should repurpose an old piece, what to ask grandma to hand down, and how to sell for top dollar using my tips at Join me at an event near you soon.

Celebrity appraiser, Dr. Lori Verderame is a Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author and  award-winning TV personality on History channel’s "The Curse of Oak Island" and Discovery’s "Auction Kings." Dr. Lori presents her Antiques Appraisal Comedy Shows to worldwide audiences. Need an appraisal? Visit or call 888-431-1010.