Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

When embarking on a new phase of life, like marriage, completing a degree, or moving to a new home, many people chronicle the experience with the purchase of an object. When looking for an investment that is both fun and smart, art and antiques come to mind. For the novice collector or seasoned art and antiques lover who want to jump into the market, I’ll share my insider tips on starting art collection. I’ve compiled a buying guide to help you find, understand, and collect the best examples of fine art and antiques.

Learn from masters

First, learn as much as you can about art and antiques in places where you are not tempted to buy art or antiques. Visit museums, historical societies, libraries and other places where fine art and antiques are on display, but not for sale. You should learn about the various media (e.g., pastels, watercolors, bronzes, oils on canvas, etc.), art movements (e.g., Surrealism, Impressionism, Contemporary Realism, etc.) and subjects (e.g., still lifes, seascapes, portraits, etc.) so you have a good idea of what sparks your interest. This method will prevent you from buying just because the opportunity presents itself. Don’t think about buying a work of art or antique piece until you establish a budget.

Stick to your budget

Have a budget in mind, settle on it and stick to it. Do not waiver and don’t convince yourself to overspend because you fell in love with a piece. No matter what you will be happy if you stick to your budget.

Slow down

Slow down and forget life’s distractions when you are considering an art or antique purchase. Even if you are starting out slow and only buying a small, reasonably priced piece, it is a good idea to take it slow. This work of art or antique object will become a part of your home life for years to come. Learn to look at the work of art or antique piece for more than just a few minutes. Don’t let a pushy dealer, encouraging friend or other “background noise” distract you or rush you into the purchase. Take a minute and just stand there and quietly look at the work. Think about what you see and try to figure out what you like. Consider it, ponder it, and don’t rush it.

Back to basics

Try to consider the basics starting with black and white. Don’t be taken in by an artwork’s color or an antique’s various forms and ornamental details. Some people who sell art or antiques will try to get you to like a particular work based solely on its colors or how it may fit into your color scheme. Remember, a big part of buying something good is learning to recognize quality pieces. I want you to buy something that you like that also is of high quality and worth the money.

Buy training

Buy the work of the trained artists and established craftsmen. Better yet, buy the work of artists who teach other artists like those established instructors from prestigious art schools and apprenticeships. When it comes to market prowess, those who can, teach!

Appraisers, curators and art historians know that the best quality work always is the best choice for a collection. It will hold its value long term. Collecting quality art and antiques always is a good investment.

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

Seattle, Wash.: Kelly worked as a waiter. One night, he served a big table of diners and did not receive a tip. Instead, the diners left a small bag on the table with a Native American turquoise and silver squash blossom necklace in it. After a month of waiting for the owners to return to the restaurant to pick up the necklace, the owner told Kelly that the necklace was his tip. It was worth $5,000.

Portland, Ore.: While cleaning out her aunt’s house, Cathy discovered a Walt Disney animation cel from Dumbo, dating around the 1940s. I told her to be sure to keep it somewhere out of direct sunlight as these early animation cels can fade. Appraised value: $9,000.

Mount Carmel: A woman showed me her circa-1920s platinum, diamond and sapphire ring, that was an anniversary gift from her husband. She said that her husband got it from “a guy named Blackie at the pool hall.” I did not ask any more questions. Would you? Her Art Deco ring was worth $25,000.

State College: A gentleman in his 90s whose family had links to the Plymouth, Mass., colony brought a teapot that came over on the Mayflower. With significant information and the documentation to prove it, the silver teapot was worth $150,000.

Bloomsburg: I will never forget the man who yelled at me when I told him that his glass Ball canning jar was not rare. It was marked 1858 on the side. The owner believed it was the first one ever made – it wasn’t! Value: $8.

Lynchburg, Va.: At a corporate appraisal dinner event, a man brought me one of the oldest objects that I have appraised. It wasn’t the oldest, but it was old -really old. The object was a portrait bust from the ancient Roman empire. It was acquired from an antique store and purchased by the man’s mother in the 1950s. Today’s value: $25,000. Note: The oldest object that I appraised at an event was a mascara jar of stoneware from ancient Egypt that dated back to the time of Cleopatra, between 50 and 30 B.C.

Akron, Ohio: A woman named Ginger purchased a very old sock monkey at an estate sale. She didn’t like it when I told her my evaluation of it. I said, “If you can smell it, you can’t sell it.” Value: Smelly!

Glastonbury, Conn.: An original campaign button from George Washington’s campaign in the form of a brass car coat button. The piece was dug up from the ground while its owner was doing some light gardening. He dug up an object from the Revolutionary War period worth $2,200.

Virginia Beach, Va.: A few strong members of a military family struggled to bring their object to my appraisal event. It took three big guys to lift it. Why? Because the object they asked me to appraise was a giant piece of reinforced concrete covered in graffiti. It was a piece of the Berlin Wall Priceless!

I have been appraising people’s stuff at a rate of approximately 20,000 objects a year, for years. And, once a guy from Wisconsin recognized me from TV and came running towards me in the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, holding up his cell phone with a photo of a vase on it for me to appraise. Everybody’s got something.

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.