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Antiques Discovery & Appraisals Show Coming to RI

Monday, January 23, 2012


Is that chair from Grandma worth something? Now's your chance to find out.

Have you ever wondered how much that “attic heirloom” of yours might be worth? You know, that curio that’s been in your family for generations? Or maybe it’s a flea market find that caught your eye and you just had to have? Or perhaps you don't fancy yourself a "collector" but you still managed to accumulate a lot of interesting old stuff?  

Many of us have at least one object with an interesting history. Sometimes we know what that history is, and sometimes we can only speculate based on what the collectible is. Often, we hold on to an object simply because we like it or it has sentimental value to us, even if we don't know its dollar value. 

How would you react if an appraiser told you that item really is a treasure?

Fans of public television’s British and American traveling antiques shows agree that some of the best, most exciting moments are when valuable treasures are unexpectedly discovered.  

New Englanders are invited to experience one of those moments of discovery for themselves at the upcoming Rhode Island PBS Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show on Saturday, February 18 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.  

This first event of its kind for the public television station - and a first-in-the-nation event for appraisers accredited by the ASA - the Rhode Island PBS Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show provides a special and affordable opportunity for people all over New England to bring objects of unknown or uncertain value to an accredited appraiser for a written appraisal. Those two features – a written appraisal by an accredited appraiser – distinguish the Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show from other antiques appraisal events in the region. 

Rhode Island Treasures  

"Rhode Island is literally a treasure trove of original works of art and furnishings created by masters of their craft," said Richard Conti of Conti Appraisal Service in Attleboro, MA, an accredited senior member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), the National Association of Professional Appraisers, and the National Auctioneers Association. "There are the familiar names – Townsend and Goddard furniture of Newport, Gorham silver of Providence, the distinctive painting styles of Gilbert Stuart, George Hayes, and Maxwell Mays – all with strong roots in Rhode Island. There are also lesser known names who crafted beautiful works of art that are recognized by a signature style or shape. These, too, have become valuable and highly collectable through time." A long-time supporter of Rhode Island PBS and the president of the Boston Chapter of the ASA, Richard is the station's liaison with the accredited appraisers participating in the Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show. 

Discovering treasures

As a personal and real property appraiser and auctioneer for more than 20 years in New England, Conti has witnessed countless expressions of shock-turned-joy in his career. He tells the story of one man who requested Conti's services to help settle the estate of the man's elderly aunt.  

"I walked into the home and saw a painting on the dining room wall over the buffet. 'That's been hanging there since I was a boy,' the 50-something year old client told me. The painting was an original oil on canvas signed by Guy Wiggins. It was dusty, but worth between $35,000 and $40,000." Needless to say, Conti's client was astonished.  

"I see this all the time. A piece of furniture or a painting that has been part of everyday family life – and virtually ignored for decades – is actually a valuable antique, hidden in plain sight," Conti said.  

RI's jewelry finds

Even what was considered 'costume jewelry' in its day – pieces manufactured in Rhode Island by Monet, Coro, Trifari – demonstrate a type of American craft and artistry that has appreciated over time and become collector's items, according to Conti.  

"Masterful pieces created in Rhode Island over the centuries can be found all over the world," Conti said, "but there are still many originals right here in New England. Some objects never left, while others have made their way back home."  

Making Your Discovery  

During the Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show, if appraisers discover an item really is a treasure, the owners could see their story told on television.  

Throughout the day, while folks are in line for their written appraisals, Richard Conti and other accredited appraisers Elizabeth Clement, Elizabeth Clement & Associates, LLC of Danvers, MA; Michelle DuBois, Winston Art Group of Boston, MA; Leonard R. Polivy, Gordon Brothers Group of Boston, MA; Peter Sorlien, Peter Sorlien and Associates of Marblehead, MA; event sponsor Steven Fusco of Estates Unlimited, Inc., Cranston, RI, will occasionally mingle in the crowd on the look-out for “hidden” treasures. TV producer and show host Brian Scott-Smith and the WSBE camera crew will be in the lines to film interactions and in the formal appraisal area to capture the moments of discovery. Those stories will be edited together with additional footage, to create a television special that will air on WSBE’s two channels: Rhode Island PBS and Learn.  

The Rhode Island PBS Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show will be held at Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick Airport Hotel in Warwick, RI, on Saturday, February 18, 2012, from 9 AM to 4 PM. One $65 ticket permits one written appraisal for one item, and admits one guest (two people). There is a choice of three admission times: 9 A.M., 11 A.M., 2 P.M., with tickets sold on a first come first served basis. There will NO buying or selling at the event. All appraisers are volunteering their time and expertise. Tickets are available online at www.ripbs.org/antiques. Ticket proceeds benefit WSBE Rhode Island PBS.  

For more information, including a helpful list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.ripbs.org/antiques. The Antiques Discovery & Appraisal Show is sponsored by Estates Unlimited, Inc. of Cranston, Rhode Island's premier antique and fine art auction company.

For more coverage, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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