By Annette Benda Fox, Fox Gallery NYC
Spring cleaning can be an adventure of discovery!
What if your grandmother’s teapot is worth $500 or even $50,000? We have all been surprised by discoveries like that on Antiques Roadshow. Maybe it’s time to find out if you have hidden treasure. Perhaps you need funds or more wall space for a newly purchased print or painting. Or finally you don’t want to keep cleaning that sterling silver tea service or cutlery and nor does anyone else in your family. This may be the time to simplify what you have stored in cabinets or drawers: perhaps bone china, crystal goblets or hand embroidered linens which are rarely used. We have all had that liberating feeling of letting go of things that do not provide us with satisfaction or joy.
During my visits as an art consultant, I have found many valuable items in residences and storage units, corporate offices and warehouses. These works of art and antiques range from 19th and early 20th century American, Australian and Italian paintings, to mid century modern furniture and Art Deco jewelry. I discovered two Edgar Degas pastels in a warehouse, was surprised by a Henry Moore bronze helmet head sculpture hiding behind a plant, and unearthed a pair of valuable prints from the back of closet. I saw in plain sight, in an office setting, a Regency wood and brass desk whose naked and unprotected fine fruitwood surface was used as a lunch table for greasy french fries.
In addition to Fine Arts and Antiques, Collectibles is by far the most popular category and the easiest to overlook. There is a long list of things you may not be aware have value to someone else! Think about toys or record collections, comic books, baseball cards or stamps that you never discarded. You may have inherited Depression era glass, antique instruments, pocket watches, old jade jewelry or antique rugs. And what about first edition books, movie memorabilia, vintage costume jewelry from a great aunt, vintage kitchenware, or even vintage Pendleton blankets. One cautionary note to be aware of is that condition impacts value. If you want to sell these items, many regional auction houses and reputable antiques dealers can help you. Start by taking pictures and walking them into local antiques shops for an opinion. Or check ebay, or 1st Dibs, or Etsy online for prices for similar items.
Looking for treasure in your home might also be a social event—an opportunity for community—to share family memories and stories that these objects contain in each of their histories. In my own family we tell stories at our “swap meets” during holiday gatherings. We have so much fun sharing our anecdotes, and our belongings. Spring is almost upon us, maybe its time to go on an archaeological dig in your own closet.You never know what you might find.
Annette Benda Fox, Art Consultant • DeacessionNY.com