WILKES-BARRE — Professional appraiser, TV personality and internationally syndicated columnist Lori Verderame entertained and educated an audience of antique owners Thursday night at Wilkes University.
Known to her fans as “Dr. Lori,” Verderame assigned values to a wide variety of antiques, ranging from oil paintings and vases to an ivory statuette and a soda cooler, after asking the owners how they acquired the items and then explaining a bit about them, throwing in plenty of off-the-cuff quips, amusing anecdotes and outright zingers.
When one woman told her she bought a sizable oil painting after she saw it hanging at a restaurant, Verderame deadpanned, “How drunk were you?”
Verderame, who has been featured on shows such as Discovery Channel’s “Auction Kings,” Lifetime’s “Balancing Act,” NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” described the work as “a starving artist painting” worth about $250. The frame added another $200 to the value, she said.
After tearing off a piece of the dust screen on the back of another painting, Verderame assigned a value between $7,500 and $10,000. “If it had the original canvas stretcher bars (behind the dust screen), it would have been worth $25,000 to $40,000,” she said, pointing out some buckling of the canvas.
Throughout the approximately two-hour show, for which each guest was allowed to submit one item for appraisal, Verderame sprinkled bits of advice when buying antiques, such as “always negotiate (on the price)” and “don’t go by taste, go by quality.”
And never use a nail or screw to hang a painting, she advised. Use a hook labeled for sale according to the weight it was designed to support, or you could end up with a broken painting and a damaged wall.
Verderame said she has been doing appraisal shows since 1998 at a rate of 20,000 objects a year at more than 200 events a year all over the world. “And I started here, right here, at Wilkes … in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but generally at Wilkes.”
Why does she do it?
“I now do it because everyone wants me to do it … and I’m hoping I’ll just lose weight as a result of running around,” she quipped.
“No, I do it because you need it, because there are so many appraisers who are not telling you the truth and you need somebody who’s going to tell you the truth about your objects. And not you, the person who has the $10 million painting, but you, the person who might need to know what your grandmother’s stuff is worth — you, the regular Joe, like me,” Verderame said.
Verderame’s credentials are extensive, including diplomas from the University of Michigan and Wesleyan University and a doctorate in art history from Penn State. She taught art history at four colleges or universities and held positions at several museums and art galleries.
Margaret Petty, director of Continued Learning at Wilkes, said the program was meant as a non-credit workshop on antiquing for the public as well as an opportunity for an entertaining appraisal of items.