Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Ground zero: Appraiser weighs in

By
From page C6 | March 15, 2013 | Leave Comment

I collapse in bed on the verge of a coma after day one of my two-day estate sale. The sale was to clear out the home of my parents, who have moved on to assisted living.

That the coma did not come was an ambiguous blessing, because in its place furniture dreams tormented me. In them, I see rooms of my parents’ old furniture, dealers laughing (mwahaha) and rubbing their hands greedily as my parents are saying aghast, “You sold that for what?”

All that day and the next, when faced with selling my parents’ antiques and finer furniture, I was caught in the crosshairs, stuck at the intersection of clearing the house in a few days so we could fix it up to sell and honoring the value of my parents’ treasured belongings.

The house is buzzing with buyers who know a lot more about what we’re doing here than I do.

In a panic, I’d e-mailed an antiques appraiser from PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. (I had an in.) I sent photos of the antiques I was most unsure about for guidance on what they should sell for.

While I waited to hear I fretted about losing cash buyers to my ambivalence, and so cut some very uninformed deals based on best guestimates and a dollop of prayer.

The morning after the sale, and another night of angst-filled furniture dreams, I hear from Gary Sullivan, one of Antiques Roadshow’s featured appraisers who specializes in high-end antiques. As we talk, I chomp through a family size bottle of Tums.

Because I like to be in control of my own humiliation, I didn’t immediately tell Sullivan I no longer had some of the items he’d appraised. I waited until after his verdicts:

The Seth Thomas clock hailed from Dad’s side of the family. A sticker on the back dates it to 1883. The clock used to sound off every 15 minutes. One day that stopped, and we were all grateful. Over the years we lost the winding key, or maybe someone buried it. Sentimental value (on a 1-5 scale, 5 being most dear): 2.

Sullivan said: An antique clock expert, Sullivan knows the Seth Thomas line well. In the late 1800s the maker was churning them out by the bushel. “It’s not worth much because though it’s old, it’s just too common.”

What happened:  I checked eBay and found dozens of similar clocks that had sold for between $56 and $150. Knowing that a clock shop would have to replace the key and clean the clock to get it running, I sold Uncle Ben to a boutique store owner for $60. “You sold for exactly the right price,” he said. “In fact, you maybe got the better end of that deal.”

An ancient-looking set of two gold-leafed caned chairs and a table were among several furniture pieces my parents bought in France when we lived there in the 1960s. The three pieces sat in our entry, usually alongside the family dog. When a dealer offered $100 for the set, I had to walk outside to cry. Then I collected myself: What would I do with it? It’s rickety and would cost a fortune to ship to Florida, where it wouldn’t fit in my home. I returned with a thicker skin, a stiffer lip and a counter offer. Sentimental value 3.5.

Sullivan said: The antique pieces were made in the late 1800s or early 1900s, and were copies of period chairs from an older time. The fact that one of the seats was re-caned (by Dad) diminishes the value. The set would sell at an auction house for a couple hundred dollars. An auction house would keep a percentage.

What happened: I sold the set for $140, I tell Sullivan. “That was a nice buy for the dealer,” he said.

The cedar chest once sat at the foot of my grandmother’s bed, Dad told me. Grandma had nine children, and somehow kept tabs on each one, including Dad, who was sixth in the lineup and probably needed watching. When he came home from a night out he checked in with Grandma and often talked while sitting on this chest. The chest maker’s name “Forest Park” is stamped inside the lid. Sentimental value 4.

Sullivan said: “These chests were 20th Century phenomenons. The company made them by the thousands. You’re never going to find one that has any value as an antique. It’s a $40 piece of furniture.” I should have “no regrets” selling it for near that.

What happened: I weighed the low market value, shipping costs and the fact that I have three chests at home, and called a dealer who was interested. He bought it for $50.

The two hand-cast brass lamps were beautiful, and my family thought possibly valuable. Some dealers thought the lamps were antiques made from kerosene lamps. I had tagged them “Not for Sale,” but took offers and phone numbers from interested shoppers.

Sullivan said: “They are not early lamps.” Before 1900 lamps didn’t come in pairs. These were made as electric lamps in the 1920s to 1940s to look as if kerosene lamps had been turned into electric lamps. I told him I had an offer for $175 for the pair. He said to take it. “Their value is not based on antiquity.”

What happened: I called the buyer who had offered $175 but he flaked. I then called a dealer who had the next highest offer and sold the pair for $150.

A French side table, also from France, is perhaps the piece I’m fondest of not only because it was once my nightstand, but also because I love its Frenchness. The piece has curved, carved legs, a marble top and a marble-lined cabinet (to hold the chamber pot, I was told — ewww). I had no idea if the piece was worth $100 or $1,100 today. I did know that if I lived within driving distance, and not 3,000 miles away, I’d take it home. Sentimental value 5.

Sullivan said: The piece was made in the late 19th or early 20th Century, in the Louis XV style. The bit about the chamber pot isn’t so. It was lined with marble to be a humidor for tobacco. The item would sell at auction for about $200. A retail store would sell it for $350 to $400.

What happened: Despite buyer interest, I did not sell this at the estate sale either. But after talking to Sullivan, and forcing myself to be practical, I called one interested dealer and offered it for $200 firm. He agreed, but the morning he was to come get it, he changed his mind. I think he expected me to lower my price but I didn’t. I’m just not ready to let go.

Join me next week as I share what I decided to keep, and why.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

.

News

Goodbye LUPPU, hello LRPU

By Chris Daley | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Past due state taxes bring arrest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Sanford trial: Prosecution, defense rest

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Woman, dog back from Oso

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
DA candidate to remain on ballot

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A9

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Benji and the Bickersons

By Matthew Margolis | From Page: A10

 
CPCSD seat unfilled

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

Lew Uhler backs Ranalli

By News Release | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

Something to think about: Teach your children well

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A6

 
Retain Bill Schultz as Recorder-Clerk

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
.

Letters

District 4 candidate

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 4 Comments

 
Open meetings

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

Volunteers and homeless camps

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 9 Comments

 
Bicycle events and traffic control

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Evacuation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A7, 3 Comments

 
.

Sports

Jennings wins national title

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Savannah Stephens can swing the bat

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A11 | Gallery

King of the West roars into Placerville

By Gary Thomas | From Page: A11

 
First and goal: Bunt etiquette

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

Oak Ridge suffers tough 2-1 setback

By Mike Bush | From Page: A11

 
Roundup: April 17, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

.

Prospecting

Plantastic sale this Saturday

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Spring art brightens government center

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Things to do: April 18, 2014

By Democrat Calendar | From Page: B2

 
Time out: A grand time at Grand China

By Earle Camembert | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Temple Kol Shalom hosts Passover Seder

By News Release | From Page: B3

 
Student art featured for Third Saturday

By News Release | From Page: B3

Promenade in high style

By Historic Old Sacramento | From Page: B4

 
Sac State Presents ‘Gypsy’

By California State Unversity, Sacramento | From Page: B4

Friday nights are engaging at the de Young

By Fine Arts | From Page: B5

 
Hats On For the Kids raises money for children

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B6

See what is inside the vault

By Center For Sacramento History | From Page: B6

 
Eggstravaganza

By Fairytale Town | From Page: B6

Gallery tips a hat to Dr. Seuss

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B7

 
Museum presents ‘Diesel Days’

By California State Railroad Museum | From Page: B7

Engagement: Adam Frega and Wednesday Bienusa

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Air Force Airman Brian Polk

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

Cal Stage presents a season of challenging productions

By California Stage | From Page: B8

 
Duty: Army Pfc. Kyle W. Beasy

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B8

KVIE calls for artists

By Kvie | From Page: B9

 
A Couple of Blaguards tell tales

By Harris Center for the Arts | From Page: B9

America’s ClayFest II celebrates a rich history

By Blue Line Arts | From Page: B14

 
Fine Arts Museums feature two shows

By Fine Arts | From Page: B15

See wildflowers on train ride

By Railtown | From Page: B15

 
Easter at Northstar is family friendly

By Northstar California | From Page: B15

.

Essentials

Crime Log: March 28-30

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Frederick Wilbur Heymann

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Arthur W. Cornell

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Frank “Bud” Kraus Jr.

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Roy Cluness Chaix

By Contributor | From Page: A2

.

Real Estate

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

 
Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

 
Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

 
Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

 
EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments

.

Comics

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A13

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A13

 
.

Home Source

Faster sales with spring staging

By Ken Calhoon | From Page: HS4

Coldwell Banker outsells the competition

Press Release | From Page: HS7

Handsome Redmond suits modern families

Press Release | From Page: HS11

Growing your own

By Marni Jameson | From Page: HS14

Fraud workshop scheduled

Press Release | From Page: HS21

HCD launches assistance program

Press Release | From Page: HS22, 1 Comment

EZ Mortgages Inc. opens Placerville office

By News Release | From Page: HS22, 2 Comments