Art and antiques by Dr. Lori

Venus is more than a celestial body.

Venus is one of the most popular classical figures in the history of art. Venus, the goddess of love and gardens, gets a lot of press this time of year.

In Renaissance art, Venus’ image adorned the headboards of the beds belonging to the famous Medici family of Florence, Italy.

By the Victorian period, bronze sculptures of the classical beauty were all the rage.

In the 1940s, pin-up girls were depicted in the famed Venus pose with palms slyly covering breasts.

At more than 150 antiques appraisal events all over the world every year, I tell people what they’ve got and what it is really worth.

A fine sculpture of Venus was ushered into a recent appraisal event by two lovely ladies – the sculpture’s owners.

My unique, straightforward appraisal approach, along with my flair for the comedic, has attracted standing room only audiences to my unscripted appraisal events for more than 15 years at venues worldwide.

Recently, I appraised a Belleek sculpture of a Crouching Venus for 13-year-old Jess and her mom, Holly.

Jess keeps the sculpture in her closet so her pets don’t get at it and her mom says that it is a good place to keep the sculpture safe.

They were right, since the piece was in fine condition, dating from the late-1800s and it didn’t have a scratch on it.

The black mark on the underside of the sculpture was used by Belleek starting in 1891, and it indicated the age and origin of the piece.

In 1891, the McKinley Act became law in America indicating that any goods imported into the United States had to specify their country of origin.

So, the Belleek firm complied with a new black mark that included a ribbon banner and the words “Co Fermanagh Ireland.

As Dad looked on, Jess and her mom were shocked to learn that her sculpture was worth $10,000-$15,000 on the retail market. Some similar pieces in only fair condition have sold at wholesale auctions for $5,000.

Some of the other notable antiques and collectibles that I appraised recently during my Antiques Appraisal Comedy Tour included:

Pittsburgh: A $50,000 baseball signed by Honus Wagner from the early 1900s when the Pittsburgh Pirates were the baseball team to beat.

Evansville, Indiana: An Art Deco diamond and gold brooch that belonged to 12-year-old Madison (she had just received it from her grandmother), worth $1,500.

Deal, New Jersey: A ship model exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universalle in Paris, France, complete with documents from the famous World’s Fair, worth $3,000.

Charlotte, North Carolina: A European miniature painting, worth $8,000.

Rochester, New York: A Dutch still life oil painting of flowers, worth $100,000.

Akron, Ohio: A World War II Nazi dagger, worth $800.

Indianapolis, Indiana: A souvenir coin from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 (a.k.a., Chicago World’s Fair), worth $250.

Philadelphia: An original work of art of the Birds of America by John J. Audubon, in excellent condition, circa 1834, worth $30,000.

Suffice it to say, my shows are not like traditionally boring antiques appraisal events, with some stuffy appraiser, flowery language and a magnifying loop.

People don’t wait in line tirelessly either.

Audiences are informed and entertained.

These events are a historical circus of sorts starring me, the audience members and the stories gleaned from their antiques.

At my events, we laugh, we learn, and we make some new friends – some human, some man-made and some – like the Venus sculpture – from out of this world.

Celebrity 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 and antiques by Dr. Lori

Recently, an audience member showed me with a list of some of the tips that I shared during an appraisal show.

During the stage show, she had been taking notes, as many folks do.

As I appraise all of the art, antiques and collectible objects brought to my shows by audience members, I give tips about the history, ways to sell antiques and preservation methods.

This audience member didn’t expect to learn so much useful information and during my post-show autograph session, she told me that she wanted to refer to it in the future.

At that particular appraisal show, I was talking with realtors and other home buying, selling and staging professionals.

I discussed how to clean out a house and how staging a property and integrating a clean design aesthetic can help make a home and its furnishings look their best.

Time management

Don’t attempt to clean out all of your unwanted stuff at once. Set aside a particular period of time to clean out the various rooms of your home.

For instance, give yourself an afternoon to clean out the guest room closet.

By contrast, you probably need to set aside an entire weekend to tackle the attic and so on.

Trying to accomplish the task of cleaning out the entire house in one day is most likely an insurmountable task.

You didn’t accumulate all of this stuff in one day; you can’t expect to clean it all out in one day either.

Get organized, devote time to your project and ask family and friends for help.

Categorize as you clean

Categorize the collectibles in your storage area that you are not currently using or displaying in plastic bags (for smaller items) or in plastic tubs (for larger items).

Mark tubs by category like toys and games, sports equipment, china, holiday decorations, glass, etc. It will make it much easier to find what you are looking for when you want to use or display it. The old standby clean out method of sorting objects by what to trash, what to keep and what to donate works fine but for folks with valuable antiques, art and collectibles, the categorizing of valuables will help you identify the scope of your collections, which impacts overall value.

Keep a list of the categories for reference.

The list will help when your college-age daughter wants to wear her old Girl Scout uniform for a Halloween party, when your husband decides he wants to dig out his racket ball gear or when you decide that you want to display your grandmother’s heirloom china in your new china cabinet.

Your goal should be that anyone can find anything in storage by following your organizational plan.

Clean home staging

Confrontation walls (the first wall that you see when entering a room) are the most important.

Put something with big impact on those walls – a great paint color, a collection of family photos or a spectacular work of fine art.

Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Don’t overcrowd a room, bookshelf or curio cabinet with every possible piece of furniture, book and paper pamphlet or collection of figurines. Less is more.

When it comes to creating drama – one dramatic attribute is enough. At the opera, there is only one fat lady singing and the same goes for decorating a room.

Introduce only one major, dramatic piece into a room. Choose one big piece of furniture or a piano, an exotic accessory, an occasional upholstered chair with a pop of color or brightly printed fabric, etc. One big statement piece is plenty. Don’t overdo it.

Want to make a great impression on a your family or a potential buyer? Organize your storage space.

Make your attic or basement a show stopper.

Sure, everyone has a lovely living room and a cute child’s bedroom, but you can really knock their socks off if you have a well-organized storage room.

Why? Because most people don’t.

Celebrity 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 and antiques by Dr. Lori

The concept of an appraisal seems simple enough yet many people confuse an appraisal with an asking price or a purchase offer.

An appraisal is an opinion of value provided by an educated, ethical and experienced expert in the field. The appraiser’s opinion is based on a current sales record of a similar object that has sold on the open market.

An appraisal is based on a sale in which someone has paid cash, written a check or swiped a credit card to pay a certain amount of money in order to buy an object like the one that you own. This is how an appraiser arrives at an appraised value. Remember, someone’s “best guess” is not an appraisal and not all appraisers are created equal.

An appraisal is based on a clean sale; no forced sale. That means that both the buyer and the seller must be willing participants in the exchange of the object for a mutually agreed upon amount of money.

The appraiser must not act as a dealer or auctioneer.

Appraisers are paid for their expertise in authenticating objects, conducting market research and knowing the variations of the market – where to sell and where to buy.

Appraisals are not the same as asking prices. An asking price is a price … a hope, a wish, a stab in the dark, a dream.

An asking price is the number that a dealer comes up with taking into account how much money one thinks they can command in a specific market for the object. The asking price is also based on how much the dealer has paid for the object and how much they wants to gain from its sale. The dealer hopes he or she can get a buyer to pay a significant amount for the object that is much more than the amount that he paid to own the object.

And, a purchase offer is not an appraisal.

A purchase offer is the amount that a dealer or reseller, not an appraiser, is willing to pay you for your object. Typically, that amount is not the same amount as an appraisal which is based on a sales record. If someone makes you a purchase offer, that is usually a very low amount of money.

A purchase offer is an amount of money where the dealer can make a good profit from buying and later, reselling your object.

For instance, an antique pocket watch is appraised at $10,000 based on a sales record for a similar watch that sold recently. That $10,000 is the amount that someone has paid for a similar watch on the open market. It is not the amount that a dealer will pay you for that watch. Why not?

The dealer doesn’t want that pocket watch for their own collection, he or she wants to resell it for a hefty profit. Ten thousand dollars is not the amount that a dealer will give you for the watch when you want to sell it.

Typically a dealer will make you a purchase offer for the watch of $1,000 (or 10 percent of its appraised value) because they want to resell it for a profit.

The dealer’s asking price for the pocket watch once it is in his shop is $12,000 (even higher than the appraised value) so they can either sell the pocket watch over the market value or they have room to negotiate down to $10,000 appraised value with a serious buyer and still make a very good profit on the watch that they purchased for a mere $1,000.

This is why your appraiser should not also be a reseller or dealer. The goal differs.

When getting an honest appraisal, a few things should be in place:

1. The appraiser must not want to buy the object from you.

2. Don’t confuse an appraised value with a purchase offer. They are not the same thing.

3. Get an appraisal first and ask for the current retail value of the object so you can make a wise decision about the value of your antique.

There are many upstanding appraisers and dealers and just as many folks who will benefit from your lack of information (e.g., market data, value, and history) about your antique. Make sure you know the difference before you act.

Celebrity 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.