Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

To some, a motorcycle is just a vehicle. To motorcycle enthusiasts, collectors and historians, motorcycles are so much more.

After pioneers moved westward in Conestoga wagons and encountered tribes of Native Americans, motorcycles became vital to settling the Wild West. At a time when areas of the country were referred to simply as “Indian Territory” (such as the state of Oklahoma prior to 1906), the motorcycle offered a groundbreaking advancement in technology.

In the early 1900s, the two most popular American brands were Harley-Davidson and Indian. Of course, Harley-Davidson continued into the 21st century and documented a long and important history among the ranks of great American industries.

The Indian brand, a firm that produced motorbikes and motorcycles including the classic Indian Chief model until 1954, was known for highly stylized bikes that could get the job done in grand style.

Inventors William Harley and brothers, Arthur and Walter Davidson launched their now world famous motorcycle company in 1903.

However, one of the first production motorcycles, was made by Harley-Davidson, circa 1905. It was a single cylinder motor mounted to a reinforced bicycle frame that is credited with winning the old west. On this 1905 Harley, the rider would have to pedal very fast to get the motor running.

Once the motor was engaged, the rider would have to be satisfied with a top speed of 25 mph. When you were relying on the vehicle to take on dirt roads and rough terrain, a top speed of 25 mph was just fine. Harley only made 16 of these models in 1905 adding to its rarity on today’s collectors market.

Just like other collectibles, vintage motorcycles drive their market based on visual appeal, background or provenance (who once owned the bike), race history, technological innovation and originality.

Some tips for newcomers to the world of motorcycle collecting: numbers on the frame and the engine should match, experts can tell when a serial number has been ground down and re-stamped and too much shine and sparkle may mean too much restoration and that could be a bad thing. Pay attention to the details as they can cost you big bucks.

You might be surprised to learn that sales for antique (pre-1913) or vintage motorcycles have nearly doubled in the last decade. That’s right, not only are motorcycle enthusiasts serious about their bikes but they are spending serious money collecting motorcycles.

For about $10,000 you can get a 1950s Triumph – the kind of motorcycle made famous by Brando in the film “The Wild One” – and be the envy of your friends.

American motorcycles from the pre-1920s era command high prices today. And many collectors also want BMW motorcycles from the same era.

A traditional 1920s BMW ride will sell for upwards of $75,000 and the market is only getting more competitive. And it has been noted that Italian bikes have it all. If you are looking for an artful motorcycle, consider the Ducati 916.

Looking back, a rare 1907 Harley strap tank with original paint stunned collectors when it brought $175,000 at an auction a few years ago.

Its seller had the bike tucked away in a Nebraska barn for nearly a century. Custom brands with a cult following like Indian, Cyclone and Excelsior attract tried and true collectors too.

If you are a true motorcycle aficionado and want to partake in the love affair with the motorcycle, consider the one that highlights the icon ride’s impact. Rev those engines.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.

Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery channel’s “Auction Kings.” Visit, or call 888 431-1010.

Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

Do you ever wonder about the big, hot shot museums and how they really function?

I’ve worked in a few such museums here in the states.

For museum professionals around the world, one of the most interesting of the world’s museums is St. Petersburg’s Hermitage museum, once the winter retreat of Czarina Catherine the Great.

For its grandiose collections as well as the controversy surrounding the atrocious conditions in which the fine and precious art is housed, the Hermi-tage continues to cause quite a stir.

The Hermitage museum is part of the famed Winter Palace designed by the Italian architect, Rastrelli in 1762.

Hermitage got its name (“dwelling of the hermit”) because the mansion was intended for intimate receptions hosted by Catherine the Great and for the purpose of entertaining the imperial family and close friends.

The collection was amassed mainly by the Czarina Catherine the Great in the late 18th century and showed her love of French art and antiques. Over the years, the collection has grown significantly.

Today, the Hermitage collection is four times larger than it was in 1917.

I visited the Hermitage on several occasions in both 2009 and 2011. Of course, I was excited, even moved, to be at the site of some of the best art in art history. Like many others, my immediate reaction upon entering the museum was horror when I saw a dripping air conditioning unit and a wide open window within mere inches of Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Sonand, the portrait of his wife, Saskia. Photographs were not allowed in the museum to protect the art from flashing light yet the hot, bright gallery lights (like high beams on each painting) were shining right onto several fragile works of art.

During my summertime visit, the museum was quite warm with no signs of any HVAC mechanicals in use. The galleries were crawling with museum guards and crowded with tourists. I realized after visiting the museum time and time again that these conditions were typical of the Hermitage.

The amazing aspects of the Hermitage museum include the breathtaking gold reception room, rebuilt after World War II, featuring nine kg of gold. I have been known to say that when you visit the Hermitage and experience all the gold there, it makes other museums look poverty stricken!

The War gallery features rows and rows of oil portraits of various Russian military figures including Czar Alexander I, circa 1812. The beautiful marquetry (inlaid wood) decorated hardwood floors which mirror the ceiling design.

There is a rule that visitors must avoid stepping on the double headed eagle symbol of the Russian Empire intricately carved into the Hermitage’s reception room floor.

And then, there is the collection. The collection! The paintings, sculptures and breathtaking works of decorative art are unsurpassed in most major international museums. The collection is encyclopedic and surely an art lover’s dream experience. For instance, Renaissance masterpieces are represented by works by Bronzino, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo. Titian, the Venetian master, is represented in the collection by an unbelievable eight masterpieces – the works in this gallery alone rival that of Italy’s Uffizi Gallery and the spectacular Vatican museum collections.

Rembrandt, the Dutch baroque genius, is recognized with wall after wall of large scale paintings including Holy Family, Self Portrait, Portrait of an Old Woman, Saskia as Flora, among others. French art of the 18th century by Fragonard, Boucher, Vigee Le Brun were featured in galleries where fine examples of French chaise lounges, tables and Sevres porcelains were also on display.

The Impressionist and modernist collections were extraordinary additions with major and mature works in multiple galleries by the big names of late 19th century painting including Renoir, Monet, Manet, Degas, Matisse, Courbet, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Picasso to name a few.

Some of these works of art have never been loaned to other museums for important exhibitions forcing art lovers to make the pilgrimage to St. Petersburg in order to view the works of art. It’s certainly worth the trip.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.

Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery channel’s “Auction Kings.” Visit, or call 888 431-1010.

Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

In 1959, Barbie was featured in a TV commercial and she sold for $3.00. A new Barbie doll doesn’t cost that much more today, however, if you want to buy a vintage Barbie from the 1960s get ready to open your wallet.

Like some other baby boomers, Barbie came of age in the 1960s. The 1960s style Barbie doll reflected the style of the times, which was best exemplified by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

The 1960s-era bubble cut hairstyle is one of the most recognizable connections between Barbie and Mrs. Kennedy.

Speaking of hair, Barbie dolls were manufactured with three shades of hair: blonde, brunette, and titian (red). Some rare examples of Barbie dolls during this period had sable brown hair similar to that of movie star Elizabeth Taylor or white ginger colored hair to reflect the light colored hair of the starlet Marilyn Monroe.

Barbie’s bubble cut hairstyle was not cropped short but showed full body and volume.

In 1963, Barbie dolls came with interchangeable wigs in keeping with the fashion interest of the early 1960s.

Face facts

In the 1960s, Barbie’s face had distinctive features including blue eyes with eyebrows to match hair color. As if Barbie stepped right out of the beauty salon,

Barbie’s lipstick color matched the popular make-up used during the mid 1960s. In the early years of the 1960s, Barbie had traditional red lips – a continuation from original, circa 1959, Barbie dolls.

By 1962 and continuing for five years or so, Barbie’s lips were shaded in a coral color in keeping with the trends put forth by California girls and other fashionistas of the time.

Clothes make the doll

Mattel was ever cognizant of the fact that like all contemporary girls, Barbie was a clotheshorse. Barbie dolls from the early 1960s sported a black and white striped one piece bathing suit, white sunglasses with blue lenses, black peek-a-boo toed high heels and signature pearl stud earrings.

A tip for the jewelry connoisseurs – it is common for Barbie’s pearl stud earrings to leave behind a green residue on the doll’s ears.

While unattractive, green ear syndrome on Barbie dolls helps to authenticate the doll.

By 1962 and throughout much of the rest of the 1960s, Barbie donned a red one-piece bathing suit, red opened-toed high heels to match and the traditional pearl stud earrings.

Barbie’s red bathing suit is one of the most popular of all Barbie’s outfits. It was sold as an accessory in something that Mattel marketed as a “fashion pak.”

Fashion paks were accessory outfits for Barbie packaged together in plastic. The red swimsuit was part of a Helenca fashion pak sold in 1962 to 1963 including white cat eye sunglasses with blue lenses and metallic gold wedge shoes. In fact, the red swimsuit was the outfit that was included when purchasing any bubblecut or ponytail style Barbie dolls from circa 1962 to 66.

Condition is key to value for your Barbie doll from the 1960s. If you have the original packaging, that will impact value. Clothing, complete with the Barbie tags, shoes, hats, jewelry and other accessories will impact value and attract collectors to your vintage Barbie pieces. Hair color, clothing and doll skin tone all are important. If they are faded or damaged, that will negatively impact value.

The markings on Mattel’s boxes for Barbie can be confusing and it is not unusual for one Barbie doll to end up in another Barbie’s storage box over the years.

Once Midge is introduced to the Barbie line in 1963, the boxes will have various markings. For instance, some Barbie boxes are marked Midge T.M. 1962; Barbie 1958 by Mattel, Inc. However, in 1964, the company adds the word “Patented” to the box markings. Of course, just having the original box will help the value of your vintage Barbie doll to soar.

To get the real story, it is a good idea to look at the markings on the doll’s buttocks for the date of manufacture. When evaluating Barbie dolls, there are many factors to consider, however good examples of vintage Barbie dolls from the mid-1960s in their original box command $150 to $200 to start. Of course, there are the rare occasions when Barbie has brought significantly more money from collectors. A sign of the times, Barbie remains a sought-after American collectible.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.

Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery channel’s “Auction Kings.” Visit, or call 888-431-1010.

Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

One of the questions that I often hear at my public appraisal events is “How can you tell?”

I try to avoid reminding people that the way that I can tell what something is, or more commonly what something isn’t, is based on my educational background and experience. This includes years of learning and teaching.

I use my decades of appraising and museum experience to evaluate all types of objects.

I draw upon this knowledge in order to glean important information about your antique pieces – works of art, antiques or collectibles.

My stage shows are totally unscripted and I do not know what antiques are going to be presented to me at my events beforehand.

People bring me all different types of things and I don’t know what’s coming next. So I appraise on the fly and I spare no feelings – you either have a gem or you have a piece of junk.

When someone today asks me how I can tell the age of something or if an object is repaired or restored, I tell them to look beyond the beauty.

Look at the workmanship. Look at the construction. Look at the foundation of the piece. That is where the lies hide.

We can shine something up or decorate a piece to make it look great, but the truth is in the construction.

For instance, the late 19th-century letter box that my friend Cindy Shook, the Gallery 63 office manager from Discovery’s “Auction Kings,” picked during our season 4 premiere Pick-Off episode is a good example because it had many issues.

First off, the interior of the box was not authentic rosewood but rather wood painted to look like the grain of rosewood.

When appraising the piece for the TV episode, I broke the news to Cindy that she purchased a locking letter box that was only partly from the 1800s.

She asked me “how can you tell?” I told her to look at the contrasting, different types of wooden pieces used in the marquetry work on the top of the box – satinwood, walnut, rosewood, etc.

The decorative motif of the marquetry inlay piece featured a recorder, trumpet and flowers and this piece was probably cut out of an early 1900s music box – hence the musical instruments – and replaced on top of the letter box.

If you look at the positioning of the decorative marquetry forms, the flowers on the left and right sides are nearly cut off indicating that perhaps the damage to the original music box was so significant that the restorer had to cut the wooden replacement piece so close to the decorative flowers that there was no space left on either side of the floral motif.

Typically, there would be an area of blank space between the flowers at both left and right side and the framing of the marquetry piece.

But, that is not the case on this box which is a tell-tale sign that the box has been reworked and a replacement piece inserted into the top.

Cindy has been in the auction business a long time and has experience restoring objects too. Her aim was to purchase an object that would attract auction buyers. She succeeded as this piece still did well at the Atlanta auction despite the replacement.

The other issue I see with this box is the highly feminine motif on a very masculine writing lap desk or letter box.

There is no delicate key-hole hardware and no floral element anywhere else on this letter box. The hardware is straightforward and functional and the framing around the box itself shows clean lines which are both indicators of a man’s functional object from circa 1875 to 1895.

When it comes to evaluating antiques, look at the object closely and let it reveal its history to you. Remember, antiques don’t lie, people do.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.

Dr. Lori is the expert appraiser on Discovery channel’s “Auction Kings.”

Visit, www.fa or call 888- 431-1010.