The Redwood Falls Public Library hosted its last adult program before the summer May 14, bringing in Mark Moran.
Moran is an antique appraiser who has been featured on “Antiques Roadshow” and who did a tour of more than 40 libraries in Minnesota funded by a Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant.
Before beginning the event, Moran noted he is an appraiser only and not a dealer or reseller. Essentially, he assures folks he has “no horse in the race.”
With buying off the table, he can give owners the assurance that his assessment of an item is unbiased, since he’s not trying to drive the price down in order to profit off of the difference. He also has a long history of pointing people to the right resources in order to sell an item.
“On a house call after an appraisal event, a woman showed me a pair of bookends inherited from an aunt, who got them in the 1930s. They were bronze, marble and ivory images of storks. The last pair of these bookends that sold at auction in 2008 brought $15,000,” Moran said.
Home visits have become a popular option for many of Moran’s clients, especially those with “big things, fragile things or just a lot of things. If I'm already in town for one of my programs, a house call is $75 an hour, and there’s no mileage charge.”
Moran noted he’s often done home visits for homes and estates of the recently deceased or those attempting to downsize. With the word “downsizing,” Moran noted his publisher has picked up on that popular trend and has asked him to write a new antiquing book on the theme.
The program Moran runs for the public is very similar to what you see on television, and he has plenty of practice. He typically does about 40 items and spends about four minutes on each with a standard format in mind.
“I ask them what they know about the object, how they acquired it. Then I explain its history or intended use, details about the maker or country or region of origin, the era when it was made and any design influences. Then I note any condition issues, how this affects value and suggest how they can have an object repaired or restored, if desired. Finally, I give my opinion of value and try to answer questions about how they might sell it, if that’s their goal... I never offer to buy or arrange a sale on a commission,” he said.
Moran has a keen understanding of how to run an appraisal event for the public and explains, “This is appraisal as theater, so expect humor, anecdotes, tall tales and just a lot of fun."
Moran does say that he was invited back for the newest season of “Antiques Roadshow” which begins shooting soon, but he declined to participate this year.
“It is a lot of fun… being on television,” but he noted the sheer amount of requests for appraisals and home visits has kept him so busy he needs to focus on that for the time being. “I think the most amazing piece of the night was the Victorian mounted birds and squirrel under a glass dome.”
He estimated it's worth at about $1,000.
Moran enjoys doing more personal events such as these and sees his involvement as a personal accomplishment: bringing a fun and educational event to residents of communities in the upper midwest who may never get to attend “Antiques Roadshow,” or who can’t afford an elaborate certified appraisal.
“They’re just curious and want to know the history, origin, and uses of their treasures, even if they aren’t especially valuable, and most people don’t care about value. They just want to know if the story they’ve heard all their lives is true,” said Moran.
Moran typically sticks to the upper midwest.