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What's it worth? Library hosts antiques appraisal

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 1:24 p.m. CST

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DeKALB – It wasn’t exactly the news he was hoping to hear.

Not at first, anyway.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Dennis Mikutis bought a mid-19th-century batter jug for $300.

“When I first saw the tag, I just saw $30,” he said. “When I realized it was $300, I was too proud, so I paid the full price.”

Although it was appraised a decade later for $1,200, on Saturday antiques appraiser Mark Moran told Mikutis the value had apparently shrunk to about what he paid for it.

Mikutis, who was hoping his pitcher would be worth $2,000, was one of several people who attended the second annual antiques appraisal event at the DeKalb Public Library Dec. 1. Moran, a veteran appraiser who has appeared on PBS’s popular TV show “Antiques Roadshow,” evaluated items including pots, dishes, glasses, paintings and a reading lamp.

After the show, as he promised, Moran did some more investigating and determined the jug was worth more than he thought.

“I’ve seen some examples that sold for $1,200,” he said two days later. “I don’t think his is up to that level, but it’s worth more than the $300 he paid for it.”

Barb and Mike East of DeKalb didn’t exactly know what to do with their appraisal. They brought in a painting they inherited that has been hanging on their wall for years. Although it’s believed the painting was done by John Varley, an 18th-century English painter, Moran said he couldn’t be sure. He estimated the unsigned painting, which has darkened due to age, might be worth $500. Although they could have the painting cleaned for about $1,000, he couldn’t guarantee that would increase its value.

“A painting needs to be maintained,” Moran said. “Or they’ll just fall to pieces.”

Barb East said the painting was appraised at approximately $600 in 1922. She said she wasn’t sure what they would do with it.

“It may just go back on the wall,” Mike East said.

Most of those in the first  hour met with similar luck. One woman, upon learning her dishes weren’t worth quite what she was hoping, said she’d just keep them for herself and enjoy them.

“My kids don’t want them,” she said. “They’d just have to wash them.”

While giving his appraisals, which are more of a guideline for what an item may be worth, Moran frequently checked his laptop for similar items to give the public an idea of what their items were worth.

Public relations director Edith Craig said the library is hoping to make this an annual event.

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