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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Webinar Program Incentive

Beginning in 2011, ISA will be introducing a new incentive program that will allow members who register and participate in four (4) paid for live webinars to get one free webinar registration. The free webinar registration will need to be used within the calendar year. Members will be able register for their free webinar with a coupon that they will be issued after they’ve attended the required four webinars. This coupon will have an expiration date of December 31, 2011.

The 2011 webinar schedule through June will be available soon; there will be a variety of topics presented by excellent speakers. The upcoming topics were chosen straight from member suggestions.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding the upcoming webinars or the new program at

Michelle Stearns
Education & Credentialing Coordinator

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Greetings

Dear Colleagues

2010 has been a very busy year for ISA.  We have welcomed more than 100 new members to our organization adding strong additions to our membership and volunteer pool.  In the past 12 months we have instituted our Webinars on a regular basis.    Our relationship with Northern Illinois University is growing stronger .  All the while our education process is becoming more professional and updated. 

Our database has been cleaned up and our member’s records sorted and stabilized.  Our website is getting ready to be geared up for new exciting changes.  And the updated and re-edited manual is due out this spring.  

We are well on our way to having one of the best attended conferences in many a year when we all meet in Nashville 2011.   Our financials have been stabilized and we are looking to end our year in the black , which in a very tenuous financial year is a fete all by itself.   

We have been very fortunate to have received good constructive criticism from our membership at large – both on the forum and privately.  As an organization we have listened carefully ; please watch us in the New Year as we begin to move from idea to implementation.   

Please make the ISA blog a daily visit in your busy day as well as our facebook page .  If you have not joined our linkedin site – you must join to read the conversations.  These are just the extra communication tools we are using along with our regular education blasts , newsworthy blasts and the ever important member forum. 

As we all prepare to celebrate the coming New Year and look towards the future, the ISA Board of Directors along with the staff of Sentergroup wishes each of our members a Happy , Healthy ,and Prosperous New Year. 

Happy Holidays to you all !

Judith Martin ISA CAPP 
President, ISA

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chapter Networking Committee Update

There is good news in the Chapters front! Carol Wamble and her devoted ISA appraisers created the Tennessee Chapter and have a lively group of over twenty members. The Tennessee chapter is a major impetus in the 2011 Conference, so we are very fortunate that Carol worked so hard over the past two years so all the ISA can benefit from the Tennessee Chapter.

Interest has been expressed by members in Northern California to re-activate the Northern California chapter of ISA.  Right now there are approximately 20-25 ISA members who would be interested in joining and being involved if the chapter was to re-activate.  

I spoke to the current secretary of the South Florida chapter. She has many good ideas and has a lot of passion and interest.

The following chart has the most current information on the chapters. Joining a local chapter is a great way to network and meet fellow appraisers in your area.

ISA CHAPTERS 2010-2011

Nini Hamalainen ISA CAPP
Chapter Networking Committee Update

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some News About Conference and Nashville, TN

When the committees first began planning ISA Conference back in May it was a joint decision that two good Nashville tours is what we would go with. Last week I could hardly believe it but got word that we were going to put together another tour as the ARC had filled up with a waiting list, the FA is on the way to being full and Conference is surpassing registration expectations! And we still have 10 weeks left for members to sign up. Sounds like we will have a full house and no wonder!

The Opryland Hotel is almost a city within itself and newly renovated with a $285 million dollar face lift after the flooding last May. The hotel has 2,881 guestrooms, a European-inspired spa, 4 swimming pools, renovated meeting rooms, nine acres of indoor gardens and waterways, 12 restaurants, a fantastic breakfast buffet, upscale shopping and electrifying entertainment all day long and this hotel is considered to be the best of world-class elegance in hotel listings. The discounted room rates are really good (ISA has secured rates of $169/night.) This has to be one reason so many members have already secured their room so early.

Another reason I think conference is filling up so quickly is the speakers on board for opening day and the breakout sessions are a fantastic line up along with the diverse subjects given in the seminars and the product knowledge available to us in becoming better educated appraisers. What can I say about Leigh Keno being such a big draw for us? I will say, “Thanks to him for being with us”. There is something for everyone, old timers and brand new members.

Oh my, and the fun things we are going to do: On Sunday, February 20th, there is the Bar-B-Q and Bourbon Tasting event and this will be followed by that great ole Fund Fun Auction. By the way: Who knows where that ORANGE CRUSH suit is? I have been assigned part of the job to find that suit! If anyone can help me I will be very grateful. I understand the person that wins the bid on the suit will receive the magical gift of keeping it for one full year which brings tons of high end paying appraisal jobs all year long. I guess that is why the suit has always brought such high dollar bids at conference.

You can probably tell that the Tennessee ISA members are getting very excited because Assets 2011 will be in our home state but it seems all of ISA is getting excited. This is just ISA on the move upward.

One last note: If you have a free night during conference the Opryland Hotel has a shuttle that runs back and forth to The Riverfront Area, Honky Tonks, B B Kings, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music and Restaurants all within a block of the Riverfront Downtown Area. Could be a fun taste of Nashville country music nightlife for you!

Please check out the new additional tour now available at this time. As of today there are 10 members that have already registered for this 3rd tour. But there are still 30 spots open at this writing. I’ll be on this one, hope you will join me for a fun Southern Antebellum tour and learn about Tennessee Furniture at the State Museum tour and President Andrew Jackson during The Hermitage tour. Read about it below.

The 1853 home of Adelicia Acklen is a story rich in art, wealth, fashion, architecture, tradition and romance. The Belmont Mansion is an Italianate-style villa, every room filled with the most elaborate furnishings in the domestic antebellum home built in Tennessee .  The home has 36 rooms furnished with a large collection of Belter furniture,  French furniture along with many rare pieces of  19th century Tennessee hand made furniture.   Large marble statues by American sculptors: Randolph Rogers, William Rinehart, Chauncey Ives and Joseph Mozier grace this 10,900 square foot Southern mansion  along with original textiles, porcelains, silver, tortoiseshell pieces and other rare 19th century furnishings  most pieces authentic to the home. 

After her husband died during the Civil War, Adelicia  faced financial ruin when the Confederate army threatened to burn 2,800 bales of her cotton to keep it from falling into Union possession.  She boldly rushed to Louisiana and secretly negotiated with both sides to save her fortune. She secured Confederate promises not to burn her cotton, while the Union army agreed to help her move the cotton to New Orleans. She ran the Union blockade and sold her cotton to the Rothschilds of London for a reported $960,000 in gold. Three weeks after Robert E. Lee's surrender in 1865, Acklen and her children left for Europe to retrieve the money made from this cotton sale.  She was quite a business woman and one that tops legendary Scarlett O'Hare!   Belmont is the story of Adelicia Acklen, the wealthiest and considered most beautiful grand lady of Tennessee’s antebellum era.   

Lunch at Belmont
Our group will have a full buffet inside the Belmont mansion for our group with Southern style linens and silverware.

Tennessee State Museum
This is one of the largest state museums in the South, exhibiting artifacts from 15,000 years ago through  the 20th  century.   The museum houses many pieces of rare TN furniture which will be the focus of this tour.  Curator Mike Bell, state curator of TN Furniture will speak on the history of TN furniture from the simple and straightforward styles to the plantation culture of the high style that developed around 1815  and changes throughout the19th century. We will learn about early techniques of craftsmanship, stylistic elements, varieties of wood and motifs used, all which makes TN furniture unique.

THE HERMITAGE: Home of the 7th U.S. President: Andrew Jackson
 The Hermitage is one of the country's most authentic early presidential sites housing over 80% of original 19th century furniture, decorative arts and personal collections of one of the wealthiest of all Presidents. Jackson owned the plantation from 1804 until his death in 1845.  After a fire in 1834 Jackson had the mansion remodeled in the Greek revival style. Six original hand painted block wallpapers from Paris still hang on the walls today.  Our curator led tour of the mansion will allow us to personally inspect some of the rooms not open to the general public and get a glimpse into the life of this great man.  

Look forward to seeing you at conference in Nashville,

Carol Wamble, ISA CAPP
Annual Meeting Co-Chair

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


To ISA, with thanks...

I recall when I was writing for National Jeweler Magazine in the 1990’s, the staff was discussing a feature article I was writing and someone suggested limiting me to 5,000 words. Someone else blurted out, "Ralph can't say Hello in 5,000 words. Let's give him 7500." And they did. So it’s not lost on me that I can be long winded. Hopefully you’ll be entertained.

I can still remember my very first ISA meeting in 1988. At the time I owned a retail jewelry store in Los Angeles with my cousin and partner. I had just completed my studies at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica and realized almost immediately that I still knew little about appraising. At the suggestion of Cos Altobelli, one of the appraisal “gurus” of the time, I attended a Los Angeles Chapter ISA meeting. The meeting’s featured speaker was Elly Rosen, a gemologist and one of the real “old timers” in ISA lore.

Rosen not only confirmed my thoughts but when I asked a couple of questions that would soon have obvious answers he asked me if I had “taken our courses yet.” Jim Goodman, an art appraiser and local from Los Angeles, blurted out “He’s a prime candidate!” At the time I didn’t know if that was a compliment or not. Was it that I was in desperate need of formal appraisal education or that I was a really bright dude who would get a lot out of the ISA courses.

In the end it didn’t matter because looking back both were true (okay the “really bright” assessment is my own). And certainly I was both intellectually and professionally desperate for the knowledge I would need in pursuing a new element in my career. I knew that the value of that knowledge would serve me well but the magnitude of that benefit was yet to be discovered.

To jump ahead, my education and networking with ISA have provided me with immeasurable benefits. As I seamfully (as opposed to seamlessly) cruise into retirement I can’t help but think back on the 27 years that have passed since I wrote my first appraisal in 1984. I was working on a monochrome display IBM XT computer that we had purchased for about $4,500.00 and the only real software aside from the operating system was a simple word processing program that a friend wrote for us from scratch. Before I ever turned on that computer I attended two “training classes” at the computer store where the machine was purchased. It may as well have been a foreign language class where the instructor didn’t speak English. My partner validated my utter confusion when he said, “Ralph there aren’t many things in the world that scare me but that thing scares the hell out of me!”

So there I was, generating appraisal reports that I knew instinctively were inadequate. One-page reports with a copy we retained in a file folder, printed on a noisy dot matrix printer (I think that was another four hundred dollars!) and folded to insert into a plain envelope.

And have things changed since then. I remember my first digital camera. It was a digital video system with a light box. Cost: $1,800.00. Value to me: Almost none. While it beat having to waste film and run to the photo lab every day, I never did get the thing to work to my satisfaction. Ultimately I found that a $150.00 digital hand held camera with jewelry displayed on plain white paper was the most efficient and produced the highest quality photos I could offer short of a very expensive custom made system.

While I have benefited enormously from the lightning speed at which technology has developed and had loads of fun doing so, I’ve become increasingly aware that I have developed so many other interests that I have already moved on. As the Jewelry Judge of Princeton I have not only survived, but thrived during the twelve years since I opened up here in New Jersey.

I am grateful for the foundation that ISA provided me way back in the late 1980’s and continuing as additional classes and conferences enhanced my ability to write credible, professional appraisal reports.

I end this cyber-manuscript with what I think is a pretty funny story. One of the members of the Los Angeles ISA chapter at the time I joined possessed a Ph.D. in a seriously academic field. In relating an argument he’d had with another member about an approach to teaching a particular appraisal principle he was told, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” and as he exclaimed, “Who is he to challenge my educational credentials? I come from academia!” I couldn’t resist: “Really? You don’t have an accent!” The joke fell flat as he continued his rant but I still think it’s funny and so I felt compelled to relate it to anyone unfortunate enough to read it.

So thanks ISA and those members who have been so supportive and helpful over the years. Rather than name all of the fine appraisal professionals who have contributed so much to my development and success I’ll say a simple “Thanks. You know who you are.” One exception who has to be identified is Maurice Fry, founding ISA member/owner of ISA whose vision and generosity extended well beyond what most members will ever know. So here’s to you, Maury, and I raise a glass to ISA as well.

Ralph Joseph, GG, ISA CAPP