Art & Antiques by Dr. Lori

I have devoted many years to the study of art, antiques and collectibles. Luckily, I have learned a few things about objects along the way.

When it comes to what’s hot on the market, I have been known to say “collect those objects that have always been hot.”

I am not an advocate of collecting today’s cool antique or collectible.

In fact, I always advise people to avoid trendy objects as they rarely retain their value long term.

Trends like Pogo sticks, Pet Rocks and Cabbage Patch dolls are not the kind of collectibles that will bring big money in the long run.

In fact, trendy objects don’t bring much money at all because they do not relate to history or culture. If an object says something about history or culture, then it will retain its value along with market interest.

Actually, the objects that retain their value best and command the highest prices over time are those which have consistently demonstrated the all-important characteristics of high quality and good condition.

The big three

The most valuable objects in anyone’s home fall into three simple categories: original fine art, antique or vintage furniture and precious metals including silver tea sets and jewelry.

When it comes to patterns of antiques collecting, these are the three categories that hold their value and rise in interest while commanding high prices from collectors.

This bit of advice does not mean that you should go to your china cabinet and trash your collection of Hummel figurines, Royal Doulton china or Waterford crystal.

It just means that when it comes to identifying the most valuable items in the antiques and collectibles arena, fine art, furniture and precious metals have stood the test of time. These traditional collectible categories increase in value and always are a good investment.

As I speak to audiences around the world, I know that the biggest myth about antiques is the belief that everyone else has something valuable but you do not.

Most people do not believe that they have anything of real value and this is how you will make a serious mistake.

Underestimating your family heirlooms may cost you your favorite sentimental object and furthermore, it may cost you your inheritance.

Quick tips

When it comes to paintings, look for canvases in good condition free of chipped pigment, holes or areas of flaking. Be sure a canvas is taunt and secured to its stretcher bars.

Frames can be valuable, so don’t overlook the frame surrounding your painting.

Don’t be overzealous when cleaning your antiques. Remove surface dust or dirt with a white cotton cloth and avoid commercial cleaners. Do not over-polish silver or wooden furniture; some cleansers may damage the piece.

If you are interested in estate jewelry, ask for an appraisal and document indicating the object’s provenance (history or family background) if available. This information can impact value in the future.

Keep collections intact. If you collect salt and pepper shakers or vintage china, be sure to acquire and keep the complete set.

If you shop smart, you will go home with good quality antiques that will certainly develop into cherished family heirlooms as time goes by. Happy antique hunting!

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

Movie memorabilia from the 1960s has enjoyed a renewed interest on the market lately.

Specifically, screen legends and big budget movies spell value with collectibles on the auction block.

For instance, 1960s-era movie stills have sold to collectors such as those of James Dean for $650, of Joan Crawford with makeup innovator, Max Factor for $350, of Paul Newman for $100 and of Kathryn Hepburn for $175.

However, one of the most famous movies of the early 1960s was the epic drama, “Cleopatra” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. Taylor in her starring role as the ancient Egyptian queen, Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII), stirred new interest in the 1963 Academy Award winning film and movie objects made for the film after her death.

Big budget blockbuster

Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, Cleopatra chronicled the struggles of the young Queen of Egypt trying to resist the imperialist ambitions of the Romans.

Cleopatra was, in its day, the highest grossing film of 1963, earning $57 million and it cost $44 million to produce. The hefty price tag was due in part to Elizabeth Taylor’s unheard of salary. After winning the Oscar for “Butterfield 8,” Taylor was asked to play Cleopatra and she famously joked: “I want $1 million plus 10 percent of the gross.”

It turned out to be no joke as she actually got that deal and moved from MGM to Fox studios to make the film.

In addition, the film’s cost skyrocketed as the complicated sets, elaborate costumes and period-representing props had to be constructed twice – once during a botched shoot in London where the sets were deteriorating due to the weather and again after the entire film production was relocated to Rome.

Celebrity scandal

During the doomed London shoot, Taylor was bedridden with pneumonia and had to have surgery. The other cast members waited around for her to recover. During this time, Taylor met and fell in love with her co-star – who played Mark Antony – and future husband, the popular British stage actor, Richard Burton. Burton was married with children at that time and the affair sparked a global celebrity scandal. Meanwhile, a second set was built at a cost of $600,000 for the film’s second location in Rome.

Liz on the auction block

Many objects from the illustrious film recently sold to collectors including gold-encrusted ceremonial headdresses worn by Taylor for $100,000, a wig for $5,000 and various film stills taken by photographers Pietro Portaluppi and Bob Penn depicting actors at work on the “Cleopatra” set for $800.

While filming “Cleopatra” in London, Taylor had to endure tracheotomy surgery.

I appraised the famous photo (above) of Taylor with her new scar along with other movie stills on Discovery’s “Auction Kings” for $800.

Following Taylor’s death in 2011, there have been auctions featuring her movie work, costumes, art collection, household items and personal effects. Her estate auction took place in December of 2011. Objects from the ultra-cool 1960s have been attracting collectors to the market for movie memorabilia and the stars that made them great.

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

Over my career, I have held positions as a museum director and curator, university professor and certified appraiser and authenticator.

Today, I share my appraisal expertise with television audiences worldwide but my favorite task is to share my tips about shopping for the old and the outstanding with readers of my internationally syndicated column.

In the art and antiques marketplace, there are a few tips to remember no matter if you are shopping at the high-end antiques shops or at the low-end flea markets. Good deals are available if you do your homework and know your stuff.

Ask for It

When shopping for a work of art, antique or collectible, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. You should always ask if the asking price is the dealer’s “best price.”

People will tell me that they think asking for a discount will insult the dealer. Don’t worry about insulting a dealer or any other seller. Many expect to bargain with informed shoppers. Be polite – you may just get a great deal.

Never let them see you swoon

Don’t admit to any seller that you “just love the piece”- even if you do love it. You will never get a good bargain if you let the seller know that you love it or that you are emotionally attached to it.

Never tell a seller that you just have to have it. Once you show such emotion about an antique, work of art, collectible or vintage object that’s for sale, your negotiating power is gone.

When in Rome

When shopping for art, antiques or collectibles, buy like a local. Even in an antiquing stronghold, you want to know what to buy and what it should cost.

Locals know what to buy and where to find the best deals. So, as an out-of-town buyer, it is best if you don’t reveal that you are from out of town.

Don’t admit that you are on a business trip or on vacation. Don’t offer the information that you may be the type of “one time only” client who is probably never to be heard from again if something goes wrong with the sale that an unscrupulous dealer is looking to hoodwink.

Also, informing a seller that you are in town on vacation suggests that you may be willing to spend more than you would on a work of art or antique if you were shopping for the same piece at home.

Most people realize that many antique dealerships are in vacation spots. Perhaps the reason for this location selection is that sellers know that most vacationers will spend more money on a piece of art or antique if purchased while on vacation as a souvenir.

Vacation Values

If you are tempted to buy on vacation, ask yourself, “Would I spend this much on this art or antique if I were buying it from a shop at home?” and “Is the piece as good an antique or work of art as one I might find at home for less money?”

Smart art and antiques collectors know that prices are higher in vacation spots or resort areas.

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

During a recent episode of Discovery channel’s TV show “Auction Kings,” I appraised a Federal period writing desk that was once owned by President Thomas Jefferson from his country estate of Poplar Forest near Lynchburg, Va. I described the desk as Hepplewhite in style relating to the designs of the British cabinetmaker, George Hepplewhite.

Like President Jefferson, many of us currently own examples of Hepplewhite furniture today both original and reproductions. In its day, Hepplewhite was often referred to as “city furniture.”

George Hepplewhite, who died 1768, was a London designer and cabinetmaker. His famous guidebook, “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterers Guide,” was published after his death in 1788. The guidebook sparked a period of popularity for the furniture designs known as Hepplewhite style from 1780 to 1810. Hepplewhite furniture was especially popular in American states from New England to the Carolinas during the Federal period.

One of the most popular pieces in the Hepplewhite style is the dining room sideboard or buffet. In the early 1800s, a sideboard was a new furniture form. Hepplewhite sideboards are often bow-shaped, Bombay-shaped or serpentine (curved). In the late Victorian period, circa 1870s-80s, Hepplewhite reproductions came to the market.

Some of the distinguishing traits of true Hepplewhite furniture include a consistency of formal design.

Hepplewhite pieces typically have straight legs, which may be square or tapered at the bottom (or at the foot). An H stretcher is common on Hepplewhite chairs and sofas. What’s an H stretcher? It is a reinforcing piece of wood that connects the legs of a chair or sofa to form the shape of the letter H.

The Hepplewhite style feet simply are styled and straightforward. They may be a rectangular spade foot (like the garden tool) or in the shape of an arrow (as if the arrow is shot directly down into the ground) at the bottom of the leg of a chair or sofa.

On heavier pieces of furniture like a desk, chest or tall case, bracketed feet are common.

One of the most characteristic traits of Hepplewhite furniture is the use of intricate inlays of contrasting woods and burl veneers.

Hepplewhite pieces may be made of sycamore veneers, birch or rosewood. Satinwood, maple and mahogany also are standard woods that are found on Hepplewhite furniture. Decorative motifs include urns, feathers, geometric shapes, shields, ribbons, swags and leaves.

Many manufacturers reproduced Hepplewhite style furniture in the 1900s following in the formal footsteps of the Federal style. Today, Hepplewhite furniture command high values at auction for their classical lines and formal look.

A reproduction Hepplewhite sideboard can command a few thousand dollars on the open market whereas a good, original example of Hepplewhite furniture can bring $50,000 to $75,000 at auction.

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.