Art & antiques by Dr. Lori

As an award-winning TV expert and Ph.D. antiques appraiser, I tell people how to recognize valuable antiques. When you are searching around your house, you might overlook those unexpected old items such as vintage handbags, chenille bedspreads, old board games, 8-track tapes and music cassettes, ceramic, silver tea sets, and mid-century modern desk blotters, etc. Many people don’t realize that collectors want everything from antique fountain pens to circa 1990s video games. If you are trying to figure out what is trash and what is treasure, remember these key points.

1. Condition is key to value. If you have an antique and it is in good shape, then try to preserve its good condition. Keep the object free from damage, dirt, pets, water, and direct sunlight.

2. Fine works of art (paintings and sculpture) hold their value over the long term. If Grandma’s painting from the late 1800s is still hanging over the fireplace, keep it there for posterity and for your pocketbook’s sake. Odds are it will increase in value over time.

3. Antique furniture in its original, un-refinished condition will hold its value and provide great conversation pieces for future generations.

4. Objects that connect to history like your great grandpa’s military uniform will command high prices in the antiques marketplace.

5. Vintage collectibles that demonstrate an interesting tidbit about culture can bring big bucks like cookie jars, tea cups, or celebrity autographs, too.

6. Objects with a documented history or family legacy connect with collectors. Always retain any records relating to art, antiques, or collectible objects when possible. The provenance of an object – its background or history – is important. If an object that you own was once owned by a prominent public figure, celebrity, or famous figure, that information could impact its value and interest in the marketplace.

7. An antique is defined as something of special artistic merit that is also more than 100 years old. However, that does not mean that a younger object cannot have significant value. An object doesn’t have to be 100 years old or older to be valuable. An object just has to be 100 years old or older to be classified as an antique.

8. Famous name brands or illustrious makers/artists/designers will impact value. Look for important names like Tiffany, Cartier, Picasso, etc. when assessing value.

9. Collections should be retained in tact whenever possible. Don’t break up a collection if you don’t have to do so.

10. Less is more when it comes to cleaning your art or antiques. Don’t over polish silver, over dust paintings, or be over zealous when cleaning ceramics. Be gentle.

When it comes to art, antiques, and collectibles, their backstory is most interesting to collectors. Document the history of an antique item by writing down all you know about its previous owners, location, and history. Look around your own home to reveal the fascinating objects that are part of your family history. Heirlooms are the best antiques of all as they recall cherished memories.

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

The Thanksgiving tradition has many of us digging out or collecting some new Thanksgiving-themed objects to decorate our homes for the holiday. On the road as I present my antiques appraisal shows, I have evaluated many objects that highlight the holiday including the traditional transferware turkey platter with an image of turkey and all the trimmings at its center, Napco ceramic salt and pepper shakers from Japan in the form of two turkeys, Thanksgiving postcards from the early 1900s, brightly colored plastic popcorn door decorations featuring Native American children from the 1970s, and other objects of holiday adornment.

Toy turkeys

I met Peggy in New Jersey whose family has placed a Steiff turkey from the mid-1900s on their Thanksgiving table every year for as long as she can remember.

This little German collectible called Tucky from the famous toy maker retained its Steiff metal button and yellow identification tags. Tucky the turkey has printed felt hind feathers, brown painted feet, and a long orange head and neck.

On the market today, collectors of Steiff stuffed animals pay between $200 and $275 for this loveable, cheerful, and high quality Thanksgiving toy.

Sending holiday wishes

Thanksgiving postcards are easy and inexpensive to collect. I have some clients who have amassed a huge collection very quickly.

Tried and true holiday collectors amass colorful lithographed cards from the early decades of the 20th century by John Winsch, the Detroit Publishing Company, and Samuel L. Schmucker. Many of the postcards feature Native Americans, pilgrims, and the foodstuffs that are enjoyed on the holiday.

For instance, turkey and other wild fowl along with corn, pumpkins, seasonal fruits, and plum pudding have a prominent place in printed Thanksgiving images. These holiday collectibles range in cost from $1 to $5 each.

Be sure to keep them in a metal storage box (not cardboard) or an acid free solander storage box to maintain good condition.

Native American collectibles

Objects relating to the Native Americans and the traditions that they shared with the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving remain of interest with collectors at this time of year.

For example, Native American pottery and baskets some of which carry very high values on the antiques market are among some of the most coveted collectibles of the late autumn season.

Objects such as black on blackware plates, vessels, and bowls by the San Ildefonso potter, Maria Martinez are popular and quite valuable. Baskets for seed beating, grain storage and tobacco pouches that were produced by some of the most important and influential Native American weavers from the Haida and tribes are widely traded on the antiques market from Alaska, California, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Also, silver bracelets, squash blossom necklaces featuring native stones and semi precious stone set jewelry pieces with blue/green turquoise, apple green gaspeite, and orange spiny oyster which are hand made by the Navajo and Zuni people are worth big bucks with collectors of Native Americana, particular around Thanksgiving.

Remember that seasonal collecting can be costly as prices for Thanksgiving related items are selling for high prices in November of each year.

Collect wisely. This is certainly the time to share your seasonal collectibles with all of those friends and family members who sit at your Thanksgiving table. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

The era associated with the Kennedy presidency was a time of youthful exuberance, enthusiasm and wonder. They called it Camelot.

This exciting time in the early 1960s when the country rallied around its new president and his young family is remembered with fondness. The tragic death of President John F. Kennedy on a sunny day in Dallas, Texas, is now remembered after 50 years.

The collectible objects associated with the Kennedys are many. After his death in November 1963, possibly every family in America had some kind of Kennedy memento.

A most common collectible was The John F. Kennedy memorial record album which chronicled many of his famous speeches on vinyl. The record album sells for $55 to collectors today.

Campaign memorabilia

Objects that relate to the 1960 presidential campaign or personal effects of the Kennedy family are among the most highly sought after pieces. For instance, Kennedy campaign posters featuring the slogan “Kennedy for President: Leadership for the ’60s” are coveted keepsakes valued at $325 each. Campaign buttons promoting the Kennedy/Johnson ticket range from the simple blue “Kennedy” pin backs worth $10 each to those that are focusing on a particular sector of voting Americans like “Kennedy’s white but he’s alright,” which sell for $30 each. Other unusual campaign pins highlighted in the presidential campaign of 1960 was the figural pin in the form of the PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat that Kennedy served on during the war. The 1960 Kennedy PT 109 campaign pin sells for $50.

My favorite Kennedy campaign collectible is the pocket cigarette lighter featuring images of Kennedy and Johnson. These lighters were distributed on the campaign trail in 1960 and today trade for $400 to $600.

Publications featuring the Kennedys are common such as Life or Look magazines with covers documenting the fateful day when the President was shot or the weekend of mourning that followed. Images remain emblazoned in our collective memory such as Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office beside Mrs. Kennedy or the toddler, John Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s coffin during the funeral procession. These items while culturally important do not hold high resale value.

Housewares of the Kennedys

The collectible china salt and pepper shakers featuring the likenesses of the President and the first lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, were mass produced and collected in large numbers. Salt and pepper shakers measuring 3 inches tall are worth $150 to $175 at the time of the 50 years anniversary. A Jackie Kennedy head vase from the 1960s made of ceramic earthenware sold for $200 and can bring as much as 50 percent more on the market now.

Works of art, which always hold their value well, are among the most interesting Kennedy collectibles like a color lithograph of John F. Kennedy by Norman Rockwell worth $500.

It is hard to believe, but people even collect highly unique and personal Kennedy items like strands of hair. Hair strands from President Kennedy sold recently for $100.

If you have a Kennedy collectible and you would like to liquidate it, you can command a high price around the date of the 50th anniversary of the President’s assassination.

On the other hand, if you are in the market to buy Kennedy collectibles, some of the best pieces will come to market in the days surrounding this historic anniversary, too. Good pieces will come to market but buyers will be hard pressed to find a bargain now.

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

Holiday time means making your antique objects look their best, particularly your silver serving pieces, flatware and collectibles.

You figure cleaning silver is pretty straightforward – silver polish, cloth, elbow grease. Well, actually, it is not that simple.

First of all, do you know if you have a piece of sterling silver or a piece of silver plate? This matters because sterling silver and silver plate have different properties. Silver plate is a piece of metal, usually copper, that has been plated with a thin layer of silver. If you polish too hard then you may polish away the silver layer and reveal the copper beneath the silver plated surface.

How-to guide

As silver oxidizes, it will tarnish. There is no stopping this process. And, once you notice even the slightest bit of tarnish, it is time to clean your silver.

If you don’t want to use commercial polish, you can try this natural method but go easy on the salt because salt can damage your silver if you are overzealous.

1. Line the bottom of a plastic tub with a sheet of aluminum foil.

2. Fill the tub with steaming hot water atop the foil.

3. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons baking soda to the hot water. Do not use too much salt because salt is corrosive to silver and silver plate.

4. Place silver items into the tub atop the foil.

5. Leave tarnished items in the solution for no more than 5 minutes. Once you see your silver piece looking clean, remove the piece from the tub.

6. Rinse and gently buff dry using a soft cotton towel.

The don’ts

Don’t use rubber gloves because rubber can damage silver plating.

Don’t use steel wool pads because they may scratch metal surfaces.

Don’t use sponges as they may scratch silver surfaces.

Don’t over polish silver plate. It is very easy to rub away the thin layer of silver plating and reveal the copper or other base metal underneath.

Don’t serve certain foods – eggs, mustard, onions – that will wear away silver plating.

If you prefer a specialty commercial silver polish, be sure to choose either a sterling silver or a silver plating polish.

Many commercial polishes do the job well.

Read labels and consult the manufacturer’s website, if you need more information.

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

Every one of us has at some point found ourselves with an old bottle in our hands – some older than others. I get questions about how to tell a valuable bottle from a cheap one all the time. I wrote this article based on a cautionary tale that I heard recently.

A woman attended my antiques appraisal event in Houston, Texas, and she recounted this story about the sale of an old bottle on eBay.

She told me and the appraisal show audience about how her friend sold an old bottle on eBay for $1,200.

They were thrilled about the sale until the buyer, who turned out to be a bottle dealer and the head of some national bottle collecting society, revealed that he had purchased her bottle with the $1,200 winning bid.

He did not write to thank her. He wrote to boast. He had the audacity to write to the seller to tell her that she was a stupid woman. That’s what he wrote – stupid.

Why was she stupid? Because he revealed that she had sold that bottle on eBay for $1,200 and he knew it actually was worth $60,000.

So, this dealer added written insult to the unknowing seller’s $58,800 injury.

These are the kind of people that you hope get their due in a manner of the old saying “what goes around comes around.” Disgusting!

Lessons learned

This is perfect example of something I have been saying for many, many years. While I hope this story teaches you something about why some antiques dealers deserve the lousy reputations that they have, it also demonstrates something that is tremendously important about the online auction website eBay and others like it. Online auction sellers don’t always know what they are doing.

Do not use eBay as a credible resource for researching the value of an antique. Right now, on the eBay auction record site, there is an incorrect value for that bottle. It states that the bottle is only worth $1,200 when it is actually worth $60,000.

If you are researching eBay sales records and you come across that bottle, you are going to look at the photograph of the bottle and think that you have a bottle like that one and think it is only worth $1,200. But, it actually is worth more – a lot more – to the tune of $58,800.

This is the major problem with people who do not have experts evaluate their antiques before posting them on eBay or any online website. This is also the problem with the people who are offering to search eBay records for you and sell you an online appraisal for $9.99.

I offer online appraisal services and what they are doing is not an online appraisal. Those people are not evaluating the object; they are just searching posted online sales records that can be horribly wrong.

You would save time by just throwing $10 down a drain. There is no identification, no evaluation, no credible sales record source. It’s a mess.

The problem is that just like this seller, people are selling objects online and they do not know what they are selling, they do not know the current market or appraised value, and they do not know that there are snakes out there ready to take advantage of your ignorance.

Again, do not use eBay or any online auction to determine value. Get a real appraisal – online or traditional – from an expert.

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.