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Tuesday, March 13, 2012


As appraisers, we all experience a certain amount of drudgery in our practices - this is something to be endured; the dirty crowded storage buildings, the poor lighting, the poor condition of the items to be examined. Remember those times when you were upside down under tables with all the dust bunnies, trying vainly to uncover something about the age and manufacturer?  But, enough of that!  I want to remind you of the other reason we are in this business:  the joy of discovering treasures among the ordinary stuff!  Of course, we get paid for our efforts, otherwise we certainly wouldn't be out in all kinds of weather dragging our gear around to examine other people's possessions, but it really helps when something special pops up.  This is "war story" material, trophies to remember and remind us why we became appraisers in the first place.

Just a few examples:
The time I went to a small ordinary house in a pleasant middle-class neighborhood and found a room full of Roycroft furniture.  The owners had thought the marks were some kind of brand, and had no idea that the pieces were anything special.  They were so delighted with the news and the values, and I hope they ended up with their eyes open to checking out marks in the future.  I am always amazed at people who aren't curious enough to look anything up - but then, why would they need me if they did!  On one recent appraisal, I found 3 rooms full of mounted taxidermied wild animals - something new to my practice.  That gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about the values of animal mounts - why else would I have ever have done that?  I think that my favorite part of appraising is the variety of subjects.  Of course, I'm a generalist, but even specialists will see so many different items within their specialities they must never get bored.  How could you get bored looking at precious gems all day long?  Or wonderful works of art?  (Granted, not all works of art are wonderful, but we will assume the best here.)

My point is that sometimes we forget how much fun this business can be, and how lucky we are to have the variety we encounter.  I'm hoping you always have a lot of business, with many surprises, and clients with wonderful items to appraise!

Terri Ellis ISA CAPP

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