Old-fashioned fundraisingYour antiques and collectibles could help the Superior Public Library raise money a guest appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, Mark Moran, comes to Superior.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Your antiques and collectibles could help the Superior Public Library raise money a guest appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, Mark Moran, comes to Superior.
Moran, a Wisconsin-based antiques expert and writer, will be at the library to share the history and stories — as well as the value — of treasured possessions from days gone by.
“Actually, the library is having some of its own things appraised — some artwork that we need to have appraised,” said Sue Heskin, library director. “So we were having Mark come to do that, but he has had really great reviews from other libraries in Wisconsin. They just love him. I’ve heard about him at library meetings. So I was really eager to have him do a public program while he was here.
The program is akin to Antiques Roadshow. Moran says he shares the history, design influence and other facts about the artifacts brought to him.
While the program is free for spectators, there is a $15 fee to have items appraised. The host — in this case, the Superior Public Library — gets one-third of the proceeds from the event as a way to raise money for the organization.
Moran has collected antiques since the 1970s, when he worked as a journalist for the Green Bay Gazette. In the 1980s, he became an antique dealer. He became an expert by employing his writing and research skills and understanding of antiques to write 27 books in addition to other pieces for publications that focus on antiques.
Now, he uses that expertise to help libraries and historical societies in the Upper Midwest raise money for their missions. His goal for the first year was 100 shows; he’s booked 150 for this year.
“He’s just really diplomatic about the way he does his antique appraisals,” Heskin said. “He’s also very knowledgeable and it makes for good entertainment as well as information.”
It’s a skill honed on guest appearances on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, which Moran said he models his appraisals on, sharing the value but also the story behind the piece.
“It occurred to me, over the last few years, libraries and historical societies are not flush with cash,” Moran said. “They need programs to generate interest from the community. People often live in a community and never step foot in the museum because its local.”
By offering his services in the form an appraisal program to the organizations, Moran said he could address both issues — the need for fundraising to support the organization’s mission and generating interest to bring people inside.
Very often, Moran said, people are more interested in the design influences and history behind the piece than the value.
“They want to know if the legend is true,” Moran said.
High-quality replicas have led to a decline in antiques markets over the last 15 years because some are more concerned with “a look” rather than valuing a piece for its age and influence, Moran said. However, he said “there’s a way age sits on an item” that the trained eye can see.
There are still emerging antique markets — aged snapshots, Chinese antiques, modernistic furniture of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Moran said.
“One of the things I use is I bring my trusty iPad,” Moran said. He said he subscribes to half a dozen websites that allow him to compare identical items to determine the value of a historic piece.
But there are some limits to what he can assess — weapons of any kind, fine jewelry, coins and paper money, and violins, are among the items he does not evaluate.
However, fine art, ceramics, glassware, some musical instruments, furniture, mechanical banks, carvings, toys, folk art and clocks fall within his ability to evaluate.
Moran said he’s also willing to do house calls to evaluate larger items, but arrangements would need to be made in advance.
“The cost is $75 per hour and we can cover a lot of territory in an hour,” Moran said. Like the appraisal show at the library, he said the Superior Public Library would also get a commission if house calls are arranged in advance of the show. Moran recommends contacting Heskin if someone wants a house call appraisal.
Appraisals at the library also need to be arranged in advance of the show, which runs 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 21 in the meeting room of the library, 1530 Tower Ave. Call (715) 394-8860 for information or to arrange an appraisal.