Monday, April 20, 2020

Finding a Treasure During Tough Times

During these strange times many people are using their new found extra time to complete projects that they never had time to get to.  Cleaning out closets, attics and sorting through the old family things.  This Native American blanket is one such object found in the bottom of a cedar chest. It was a nice $1,000 surprise for its owners.

I am offering a reduced $9.99 per item for any online appraisals or three for $25.  For larger projects we can discuss using Skype or Zoom. 

Online appraisals is the only service I am able to offer during these times and your business is much appreciated.  Please email for any inquiries.  Thank you and stay safe!

Monday, November 25, 2019

One Email...$500,000

It isn't the most expensive single piece I have appraised, that award goes to a contemporary painting for a private client valued at over 4 million.  But this email was the single highest grossing amount I have ever received.  More news to come...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Art & Antique Appraisals Online

William Bradford painting appraised by Paul Royka

For over 35 years I have been appraising art and antiques.  This was one of my most memorable appraisals.

At a fund raising event for a college a women stood in line for about two hours.  She finally made it to my table holding a small painting of a dory lying on the beach. It was well done by a known artist who signature you could easily read.  I told her it was worth between $2000 and $3000 at auction and maybe a bit more retail.  She thanked me and took a business card.  About a month later she called and said she had another painting but it wasn't as good because it wasn't signed.  She made an appointment and showed it to me.  The painting was a wonderful example of Luminism (works that emphasize tranquility, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky).  I immediately told her it was worth a great deal more than the other work.  

I promptly began research that centered on two key aspects.  The scene itself depicting a very prominent rock formation and the framing which was original to the piece.  Both pieces of information lead me to the New Bedford whaling museum where we found the original sketches for the painting by William Bradford.  I sold the painting for my client for $240,000!   

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

An estate in Connecticut was in need of an appraisal of contents.  The owners had told me their relatives had already sold off all of the good items years ago through an auction house.  There was a collection of glass and Tiffany lamps and the auctioneers had already sold everything years ago.  I continued to look through the estate and appraised the general antiques and odd paperweights that were left behind.  At the end of the day the owners said there was one more item.  They walked over to a blanket chest and pulled out a small bundle of towels.  "What do you think of this?" they said while handing me a six inch glass vase.

I could not believe my eyes.  It was a rose vase by Emile Gallé.  Gallé was one of the finest glass maker in the world.  But this was no ordinary Gallé vase.  This is one of his most precious creations - a mystical rose piece.  (Return soon to learn more about this amazing find...)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

American Art Pottery

I remember the days when American art pottery (Grueby, Rookwood, Marblehead, etc.)was sold by sending a client a color Polaroid in an envelope with a description.  The market has dramatically changed since the 1970s when the first major collections were being formed.  The market became stronger in the 1980s when multi-millionaire collectors began to form collections with the intent of one day donating them to museums.  In the 1990s there were a handful of even more wealthy collectors looking to build their own museums.  Today, those collections have been donated and the museums have been built.  One downside is that many of the finest pieces are no longer on the market which deters future collectors from getting involved.  After the advent of eBay and the 2008 recession prices took a big tumble.  While extremely rare pieces will still demand a record price the average pieces have fallen back to prices that we saw in the 1980s.

From left to right:
Hampshire Pottery Green Vase $300
Marblehead Pottery Tobacco Brown Vase $350
Saturday Evening Girls Vase with Beetles $400
Rookwood Pottery Vellum Vase with Flowers $500

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

It's Magic

A late 19th century original magic poster advertising a show for a theatre in Worcester, MA.  This piece crosses the category of vintage poster collectors and magic collectors.  A wonderful item valued at $2000 to $4000 dollars.

Oh Deer! Norton Pottery Jug

I've done so many appraisal events I can't remember where this was.  But I remember I was sitting behind the table and looking out at the line.  A person was standing there swinging this Norton Pottery stoneware jug by their side.  It almost hit a person's umbrella in front of them.  I couldn't stand it anymore and walked over to him.  "Please sir, can we place this on the table up front."  He was genuinely surprised and felt a bit awkward cutting the line.  I told him "one chip and you will lose thousands of dollars."  Luckily he wasn't holding it anymore when I told him because I think he would have dropped it.  

Stoneware is all about the decoration.  We look for unusual things like animals, figures or scenes.  This deer was well executed with lots of personality.  It was value at over $10,000!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tiffany Studios Peony Lamp

I remember holding my first Tiffany Studios shade.  There is a certain weight and feel to it that after awhile you can tell it's just right.  There are many fakes on the market and even fakes that were put together with real Tiffany glass.  Provenance really matters in this market.  This is a nice example of a lamp that had stayed in the family since the day it was purchased as a wedding gift.  The patina on the base was untouched.  It was given a value of $40,000 to $60,000!

Why Don't My Kids Want My Stuff!

A recent Washington Post article Stuff It: Millennials Nix Their Parents’ Treasures by Jura Koncius states “A seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America” and I agree wholeheartedly.  I am also approached on a daily basis with items from people who are trying to clean out estates who think what they paid for something in the past is still relevant today.

An example given the article is “Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers in Chevy Chase, says the market is flooded with boomer rejects. “Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don’t want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don’t polish silver.” The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it’s not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.”

While the market is getting smaller there is still finds to be made in fine art and other items that are more unique.  I hope I can help you find a treasure but “the old days” are over and we all must adjust to the new reality of the market.

Finding a Treasure During Tough Times

During these strange times many people are using their new found extra time to complete projects that they never had time to get to.  C...