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Nebagamon hosts appraisal 'friend raiser'

Appraiser Mark Moran examines a piece of early 20th century "blackware" pottery during an event at the Historical Village at the Crossroads in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (Submitted photo)

If there's treasure waiting to be discovered in the village of Lake Nebagamon, Mark Moran may just find it. The Iola, Wis., man has about 40 years of experience in the antiques business and has toured with PBS' "Antiques Roadshow." When it comes to antiques, he's written the book on it -- 27 of them, to be exact. On Sept. 29th he'll be holding an antiques appraisal at the Imogene McGrath Memorial Library. Anyone in the area is welcome to bring in an item for him to look at.

Library board member Mary Yoshimoto suggested hosting the event after attending an appraisal by Moran at the Superior Public Library last summer

"I thought it was excellent," she said. Moran was very entertaining and really knew his stuff.

"He puts on a very interesting and informative program," said Sue Heskin, director of the Superior Public Library.

Many people, including Yoshimoto, stuck around to watch after getting their own items appraised.

"I think the audience learned a lot from him," Heskin said.

Armed with an iPad, books and decades of experience, Moran can tell if an item's value is monetary or just sentimental.

"Everyone's got a story, even if it's not a big-ticket item," he said, especially pieces that have been handed down through the generations. "In many instances, people don't care what it's worth. They just want to know if the story they've heard is true."

Yoshimoto and her sister brought a bit of Chinese silk on a tray to the Superior appraisal, a wedding gift to their grandmother from her maid of honor in about 1910. The maid of honor told her to cherish it because it was very valuable.

"According to Mark it was not valuable," Yoshimoto said. But Moran was tactful in revising the story.

"He's got a good way of letting you down easy," she said.

Moran has struck antiques gold during similar events. During an appraisal in Prescott, Wis. last October, a man brought in an original piece of 1950s pinup girl calendar art by artist Harry Eckman. The man had bought it for $5 at a garage sale. It sold at auction in July for $16,000.

Ginny Gelineau is organizing the Lake Nebagamon appraisal.

"I thought it would be fun to have someone that knowledgeable, someone with his experience and knowledge," she said. Although a portion of the $15 fee to appraise each item will go toward the library, the event is being billed as a "friend-raiser," not a "fund-raiser."

"We want people to come to the library and see what we have to offer," Yoshimoto said.

The leaves will be in full color, Gelineau said, and a "star of stage and screen" will be on hand for one day only. Everyone is welcome to come and just watch the show. Gelineau hinted that a Tiffany lamp, a chain that was possibly owned by a French Voyageur and an oil painting by Al Bertini may be on the appraisal list.

With 30 years as a newspaper man under his belt, Moran enjoys digging up the story behind each item. He said he aims to do it in an entertaining way.

"Tell a good story simply, honestly, clearly and make it entertaining," he said.

The Iola man does not purchase any of the items he appraises at these programs.

"No matter how much I'd like to I never offer to buy anything at my programs," Moran said. "I'm just there to share information. If someone has something they want to sell, I'm always happy to point them in the right direction." He also offers the option of a home visit to anyone in the area interested in having large items or a number of items appraised.

The Lake Nebagamon event takes place from 1-4 p.m. Sept. 29. All items for appraisal must be registered in advance by calling 715-374-2323. For more information on Moran, look up his website at or Facebook site Markfmoran.