August 1, 2009

Appraising stuff in Southington

SOUTHINGTON –Martine Wiecek lugged four pictures to the appraiser Saturday at the Southington Historical Society’s fundraiser.
One had an elaborate oak frame and appeared to be an old charcoal drawing of a boater on a lake telling some women in flowing dresses some kind of legend.
The other three were 1970s-era illustrations from a Pond’s calendar with nothing but a sheet of plastic to preserve them.
Wiecek said she got the framed picture at an auction a long time ago. She found the calendar illustrations at a tag sale for $1 each.
As she waited for the expert’s opinion, Wiecek said, “I’m hoping she can tell me something.”
When Kim Brewer, an art expert from Simsbury, took a look, she initially dismissed the Norman Rockwell-like calendar illustrations of a family at different times of the year. Then she realized they weren’t prints. They were the real deal.
“These are the original illustrations,” she said, and appear to be “a very high quality” watercolor.
A check of a price guide determined that the artist, Richard Williams, may be a Mad magazine illustrator whose work can bring many thousands of dollars. But he may also be a well known commercial artist.
Brewer said she thinks each of Wiecek’s illustrations could be worth as much as $6,000 – a pretty good return on a $3 investment.
And the one in the massive frame? It’s almost certainly a lithograph that’s worth little. The frame itself, however, is worth $150, Brewer said.
The appraisal show drew scores to the Calendar House Senior Center to see if their stuff had any value.
Bob Cusano, president of the historical society, said the group decided to give it a try after seeing that 16,000 people who wanted to attend PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” in Hartford recently couldn’t get in.
“We stuck our necks out,” he said, but when he saw lines of people waiting to get in when the doors opened, he realized the first-time effort was worth it.
“There was a real crush,” Cusano said, with most of the people bringing in artwork, which is tough to find values for without some expert help.
But art wasn’t the only attraction.
One man brought in a 1951 baseball signed by many of the New York Giants that year, including Leo Durocher, said Tom Bentz of Southington. He said the ball might be worth $500.
A woman hauled in a stack of 1940s-era Boston Red Sox programs in great shape. They’re worth between $50 and $200 each, Bentz said, because of their condition and the fact that nobody tried to fill them to keep tabs on the game. They cost a dime at Fenway Park back in the day.
John Walton of New Haven, an expert on weapons and more, said the most interesting piece he saw Saturday was a Revolutionary War-era sword that came from Benedict Arnold’s house in Norwich.
In great shape, it was worth $3,000, he said, but could be worth much more if there was a way to prove it came from the legendary traitor.
A man carried in a flintlock from the Revolutionary War period that had “Waterloo 1815” painted on the stock. It was worth $1,500 or more, Walton said
Walton has seen a lot in his many years in the business.
He said that in the early 1960s, at his family’s shop in New York, they bought a 1745 footstool from Philadelphia in terrific condition for $10,000. An admiral bought it for $12,000.
Last year, the stool sold at auction for $5.2 million, Walton said.
“I never imagined the value of Americana would go up so much,” he said.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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