“Who gives someone something like this as a gift?” Lori Verderame jokingly asked Saturday, holding up an odd-looking wooden sculpture a man brought for her to appraise at the Akron Home & Flower Show.
It was a gift from an Asian antique collector, the man said. He figured the sculpture came from Japan.
Verderame, who has a doctorate in art history, said it more likely came from the Solomon Islands near Australia and honored something in that local culture’s mythology or iconography. It was carved, she said, around 1900 and worth about $750.
“Not bad. Are you going to tell the person who gave it to you?” Verderame coaxed, saying the man might owe the art dealer a thank you.
“She’s dead,” the man said flatly.
Well, Verderame quipped, at least the man got out of a thank you, triggering laughter and applause among the crowd.
Verderame has the mind of a college professor — a career she gave up for appraisals — and the soul of a comedian.
Appraisers look for clues to appraise things, she said, “like [the television show] CSI without the blood.”
Scores of people filled every chair with more standing Saturday for the second of her five appraisal shows this weekend at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron. Many said they followed her television show Auction Kings on Discovery Channel. Others had seen her at previous Akron events. She recognized people, too.
“We met each other last year … in the snowstorm,” Verderame said from the stage to a 20-year-old named Jacob wearing a blue “If lost, return to Luigi’s in Akron” T-shirt.
“You said to me, ‘I collect man stuff’ and you brought [me] a bunch of Hot Wheels,” she said.
On Saturday, Jacob brought a small sword to be appraised. He told Verderame he bought it for $25.
Verderame held the weapon so the audience could see an indented line running the length of the blade called a “fuller.” “All of the blood is going to gush out right through this indentation when you run it across a neck,” Verderame said, faking a slice across her own throat, followed by a head tilt, eye roll, tongue-out fake death.
She said it was worth about $400. The crowd applauded.
Verderame said she went into the appraisal business after meeting a 75-year-old woman who sold a family heirloom — a President George Washington document — for $50. Whoever bought the document ripped off the woman because it was really worth $50,000.
The woman had no legal recourse. But Verderame has been trying to prevent something similar from happening to others, she said, by educating people about what things are worth.
Some general lessons she passed on Saturday:
•?Reputable appraisers don’t get involved in a sale. If you want to get rid of something, find out how much it’s worth from an appraiser who has no intention of buying the piece.
•?If you like to buy art, carry a cheap jewelers loop and check each piece before you put down money. If you see brush strokes, it’s a painting. If you see dots, it’s a print.
•?The three most valuable things in any house are furniture, precious metals and fine art because they hold value.
A few of the other items she appraised Saturday:
•?A 1940s framed pin-up of a nude woman reclining, $1,200. Tammy Cramer of Cuyahoga Falls said she paid $20 at auction for the painting.
•?A 1940s cast-iron mechanical bank that flings a coin into the open mouth of a man in a dental chair, $20. Michele Erney of Aurora said she paid 10 cents at a garage sale. A framed, early 1900s print of a penguin, $20-$25. Erney said she paid $10 at a garage sale.
•?A framed painting of a stream through woods, $7,500. Dave Bridenstine of Canton said he paid $75 at auction.
Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or email@example.com.