Art and antiques by Dr. Lori

The process of stamp collecting is nearly as old as the stamp itself. There have been documented cases of meetings of stamp collectors taking place as early as 1841 and advertisements placed by like-minded individuals who enjoyed stamp collecting in the mid-1800s. The first government issued stamp was introduced in 1840 in Great Britain.

Sir Rowland Hill, the post master general at the time, designed the first stamp and changed the way we collect those little pieces of valuable paper.

Today, the American Philatelic Society and other groups of stamp collectors promote stamp collecting and highlight the study of stamps.

Some of the most interesting stamp collectors that I have met are young people who have taken up the hobby with their parents or grandparents. Like coin collecting, stamp collecting is a great way to introduce children to the fun of collecting a piece of Americana.

Available at your local post office, the publication USA Philatelic is a source for current stamp and stamp products available from the United States Postal Service.

It is known as the official source magazine for stamp enthusiasts. The current issue of the magazine features new items for collectors such as newly issued stamps like those featuring Jimi Hendrix, gay rights activist Harvey Milk and actor Charleston Heston, souvenir booklets of 20-stamps focusing on the J.K. Rowling’s character Harry Potter, stamped cards and envelopes picturing a folk art eagle and bank swallow bird and thematic stamps like those appropriate for wedding invitations, graduations and holidays.

The magazine provides historical information about the history of stamp collecting by providing fast facts about some of the best known stamps like the misprinted Inverted Jenny airplane stamp which was first printed on Sept. 22, 1913, at Washington, D.C., and the last chance to buy the collectible Ronald Reagan Centennial stamp, which was first issued on Feb. 10, 2011, at Simi Valley, California.

These special commemorative stamps introduced more collectors to the hobby. Today collectors gather stamps that relate to military history, sports heroes, special events – and the list goes on.

The first commemorative stamp printed in America marked the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America.

It was introduced in 1893, the same year as the World’s Columbian Exposition also known as the Chicago’s World’s Fair.

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

Technology has helped many people get the information they need in short order.

When it comes to learning the value of antiques and obtaining appraisals, more and more people are finding that expert advice by searching online.

At my office, we have seen a significant increase in clients who are using our mobile app to send a picture of an object that they want to bid on during an auction, buy at a yard sale, or quickly get appraised so they can negotiate with an antiques dealer.

Online appraisals and the ability to provide quick answers to questions reveals that even when it comes to old objects, technology is king.

Technology has changed the face of auctions too. If you have ever attended a traditional auction, you basically know how it works. You preview the objects that will be put up for sale prior to the actual auction, register with the auction house in order to place a bid, and take part in the action. As the bidder, you may use a paddle, numbered card or hand gesture to place a bid once the auction begins. That’s the 20th-century version of an auction.

The 21st-century version is far different. Technology has changed the face of buying and selling old stuff and it has transformed the traditional auction experience.

Most auctions have moved into the technological age with auctions taking place in real time online and bids coming in from all parts of the world from mobile devices. Auctions have seen a major change as absentee bidding is on the rise. This style of shopping has become more and more popular and easier to do with the aide of technology.

From 2000 to 2010, most auction bidders were physically on-site at the auction house in order to compete for a particular piece in the auction house’s inventory at a particular auction. Bidders participating in famous Old Master painting auctions and Modern and contemporary art auctions have become more and more Internet savvy.

While some local estate auctions have jumped onto the Internet bandwagon and marketed their auctions online and accepted bids via computer, other small scale auction houses have been slow to embrace the global market of potential buyers accessible through the internet. Now, sellers working with auction houses to liquidate the contents of grandma’s house are demanding that there is an web presence to attract more buyers to their auction.

Today, phone and internet bidders comprised approximately 50 percent of auction buyers. Auction bays are, according to many auction house reports, not full of people as they once were.

Auction houses are advertising their auctions online and via social media. They are accepting more international bids from interested shoppers using click-through bids on computers, tablets, laptops, cellphones, mobile devices, etc.

Today auction houses are adding phone lines, speedy communication cables and wireless routers in order to accept the increased number of absentee bids at each auction.

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

Many years ago, I learned that in order to make information stick in the minds of my university students, you had to give them an easy way to remember that information.

Catch phrases that I used in lecture halls on world class university campuses became my trademark, just as they are now.

I still employ these catch phrases, which I invented years ago, when I appear on TV and at appraisal tour events worldwide. I come up with new catchphrases on the spot during my live appraisal stage shows too. If you have been to one of my events, you have heard my loyal crowds recount these catch phrases aloud. Here are some of my greatest hits:

“Ugly is your first clue to value.”

Sometimes the ugliest thing in Grandma’s house is worth the most money. Don’t overlook an antique just because it’s not your style or taste. Think of Picasso’s paintings – not particularly pretty, but very valuable!

“Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s valuable.”

I have old junk in my house, my Grandmother had old junk in her house. Sometimes it is just old junk.

“Antiques like to live where you like to live.”

Display or store your antiques in the main areas of your home – like the living room, den or bedroom. You wouldn’t want to live in your musty basement or in your hot attic. Your antiques don’t want to live there either.

“Condition is to antiques as location is to real estate.”

In the antiques game, objects have to be in good shape to be of high value.

“If your antiques expert isn’t wearing gloves to protect your antique, then they just aren’t an expert.”

The gloves are mandatory if you have any respect for vintage or antique objects. If you are evaluating objects, condition is key and the gloves protect an antique from deterioration caused by the oils on human hands. In museums, gloves are standard issue when handling objects. The pros wear gloves.

“Ask that appraiser who offers to buy your antique from you appraise the front door on the way out of your house.”

Know the difference between a purchase offer like “I’ll give you $50 for that platter” and an appraisal like “a platter like that one recently sold for $500.” An appraisal is an expert opinion of value based on a recently completed sale. If someone is offering to buy an antique from you, that is not an appraisal. Typically, that statement is a low-purchase offer or a cheap amount that the dealer acting as an appraiser is willing to pay.

“An asking price is not an appraisal. It is a wish, a hope, a dream.”

It isn’t an appraised value until somebody buys that antique for a particular price. When you hear a picker or a dealer say “I bought it for $20 and I am going to ask $200 for it,” that doesn’t mean it’s worth $200. It just means he has the audacity to ask $200 for it. It’s only worth what someone has paid for it – in this case, only $20.

There are more of these catch phrases that I have shared over the years. Join me at my antiques appraisal events and I will highlight more easy-to-remember antiquing tips.

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

When it comes to learning how to spot a treasure, the first thing you have to learn is where to look.

My real gift comes from years of experience in museums and universities knowing how to identify and spot the real valuable stuff.

In my experience, the most common places where valuable antique treasures are hiding are at yard sales and inside people’s homes.

Many of you probably have heard me say that it is a better use of your time to watch sports on the weekend than to schlep all of your unwanted stuff out of your basement or down from the attic and onto the front lawn in order to host a yard sale.

Most yard sale sellers have lost as much as 80-90 percent of the actual value of their unwanted items by selling them at a yard sale.

Yard sales are one of the places where auction houses send out runners and pickers to get inventory for their auctions. Many people don’t realize that yard sales are big business. They aren’t just an exercise where you can make a few bucks and clear out some space.

They are a high stakes game of getting great stuff for cheap. The people making really big money at a yard sale surprisingly isn’t you.

Major yard sale mistakes

An oil painting by Martin Johnson Heade, an American realist painter from the 19th century, sold at a yard sale held in California for $18.

The yard sale seller didn’t know that is was a masterpiece. The buyer certainly did.

The buyer then resold the painting at auction for $425,000 – and now the painting is in a collection at an art museum in Texas.

Is there an old painting hanging around in your basement that you think is ugly but is really worth a fortune? I’ve seen it happen.

A Chippendale table sold at a yard sale in New Jersey for $35. The buyer who knew the value and origin of the table, bought it for only $35, and then resold it for $3 million dollars at an upscale antique furniture sale.

Would you recognize a valuable antique table sitting in your grandmother’s den?

At one yard sale, I picked up a clearly marked platinum and diamond ring with a $10 price tag on it. When I told the yard sale host what I had found, she argued with me.

She told me that the price was $10 firm (even though I had not asked her to reduce the price).

I explained to her that I didn’t want a discount nor did I want to buy the ring. I wanted her to realize that she made a BIG mistake and that she should take the ring back into the house.

After much discussion, she thanked me for saving her from losing a $5,000 family heirloom.

People regularly make these kinds of mistakes at yard sales. And, I take the heat from the pickers, resellers, and other yard sale runners who don’t want me to reveal this kind of information to the general public.

Many people who want to sell off unwanted stuff will have me come through their home and appraise the objects that they want to sell off before they have a yard sale.

My motto: “Don’t host a yard sale.”

You can lose your heirlooms as well as your shirt.

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.