Pull those old toys out from under the bed. Grab the toaster tucked in the back of the kitchen cabinet. Gather up your old china and Christmas ornaments just don't throw them out! In Treasures in Your Attic, Joe L. Rosson and Helaine Fendelman, professional antiques appraisers and hosts of the popular television show, aired on PBS stations across the country, explore the valuable objects found in most ordinary American homes and learn that frequently the most valuable items are the ones you've overlooked.
Joe and Helaine give you an inside look at how the antiques market really works, how value is determined, how to "talk the talk," and where to go to research your "treasures." Then they take you on a room-by-room treasure hunt of an ordinary home and they talk prices as they examine the discarded toys in the children's room, the costume jewelry in the bedroom, the old gadgets and appliances in the kitchen, the furniture tucked into the attic, and even the concrete garden ornaments in the backyard. Finally, they'll help you figure out the best way to sell or buy antiques and collectibles at auction or on the Internet.
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About the Author
Joe L. Rosson and Helaine Fendelman are the host of the popular television show seen on PBS stations nationwide Treasures in the Attic. Helaine writes the "What is it? What is it worth?" column for Country Living magazine and Joe is the antiques columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. They both write Scripts Howard weekly newspaper column "Treasures in the attic".
Read an Excerpt
The American public is fascinated with antiques and collectibles. Turn on the television, open a magazine, scrutinize a newspaper, or switch on a computer, and you are sure to find an array of "experts" who will tell you about the objects in your home and how much they are worth.
In many cases, we are bombarded with information that is very hard to understand, evaluate, and associate correctly with the items that we actually own. All too often viewers and readers sitting at home are shown an object that vaguely resembles something in their possession, which falsely kindles a hope that riches -- or an unexpected windfall at least -- are just around the comer.
Not long ago, Joe was evaluating at an appraisal clinic and a couple came to his table with a Civil War sword that had belonged to the gentleman's great-great-great grandfather. The couple had traveled to the appraisal event because they had seen a television show that valued a sword similar to theirs at $50,000, and they were certain that they had a treasure.Unfortunately, theirs was a fairly common Union cavalrymaris sword worth about $850 at retail. The couple's disappointment was palpable, and they seemed unsure of what to believe. Joe dealt withtheir reservations by encouraging them to get a second opinion (and telling them where and how to get it), and by explaining exactly why their particular sword was in fact a family heirloom to be treasured, not a monetary treasure in itself.
The difference between a $5O,000 sword and an $850 sword is a matter of details. To the untrained eye, one sword looks pretty much like another, but individualtraits such as who made the piece, whether it is Confederate or Union, the engraving on the blade, the overall condition, and whether or not it has its original scabbard, not to mention what type of sword it happens to be, are of paramount importance.
As the saying goes, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." "Close" certainly does not count in antiques. In determining the value of any given antique or collectible, the smallest circumstance can make the biggest difference. Color-or the lack thereof-counts, as does size. Sometimes bigger is better, but sometimes smaller is more valuable. The content of the decoration is also very significant as is the skill of the person who did it.
Who the maker was can be of great importance, and anonymous pieces are seldom as valuable as those created by a know or famous craftsman. In addition, the history of a piece can be very meaningful. Knowing who owned a given piece over the years (this information is called "provenance") can add considerable interest and value.
Valuing an antique or collectible can be a very difficult and convoluted task thatrequires a lot of specific information about the object in question. But before we can accompany you on your treasure hunt and help you spot the valuable items among your possessions, you'll need to master a few basic concepts.
Two of the most destructive ideas that television and the media have knowingly or unknowingly conveyed to the public are that everything over a week-and-a-half old is potentially valuable, and that everything around the house will be collectible sooner or later. Neither one of these concepts is true.
It needs to be pointed out vigorously that not everything found around the house is a potential treasure, nor is everything that is "old" valuable! Age is not the major criterion for determining whether or not an object has any significant monetary worth.
We receive thousands of letters every year from people asking how much their possessions are worth, and we talk to many thousands more who have the same burning question on their lips. All too often, people try to impress us by declaring in a grave tone of voice that they know for certain that their cherished heirloom has to be valuable because it is "over one hundred years old!"
This statement is usually followed by a pregnant pause while the inquirer waits for us to be impressed by this piece of chronological information. Although we usually smile and graciously acknowledge this assertion of age, most people would be surprised to learn that we are not nearly as impressed by this number as they think we ought to be.
In the fascinating real-life adventure game of collecting, the only part that age plays in the all-important equation of an object's desirability and monetary worth is that the item under consideration must be as old as it is supposed to be. For example, an American Chippendale chair needs to have been made between about 1750 and 1780 to be of real interest to serious collectors. Those made in the 1870s or 1920s are also "old," but they do not command the same interest or the prices of pieces from the original period.
Years can add value to wine, and years of experience can add value in the job market, but years do not necessarily add value to objects, and they are not the primary yardstick by which collectors judge or assess monetary worth. Do not confuse age with value, and remember not to equate the two in your mind. When a seller tells you that you should buy something ". . . because it's one hundred years old," do not be so impressed that you automatically reach for your checkbook.
Your reaction should instead be to focus on the real criteria that can make a given object valuable.
Important Criteria to ConsiderAsk yourself:
Does this piece have artistic merit?
For example, the famous Rockwood Pottery of Cincinnati, Ohio, made some artistic wares that were designed and hand-executed by highly skilled artists. But Rockwood also made "production-line" wares that were mass-produced with little or no handwork. The very best of the artist-designed pieces can bring tens, or, in very rare cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars each at auction, but some of the production-line pieces can be purchased for less than $2OO at the retail level.Treasures in Your Attic. Copyright © by Joe Rosson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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An easy to read reference book