NPT’s Appraisal Day 2017 Brings Mix of Treasures and Stories


NPT’s 2017 Fine Arts and Antiques Appraisal Day was another success. Held at The Factory at Franklin on June 24, the event raised more than $30,000 to support NPT’s engaging and educational programming. More than 21 appraisers from around the region provided attendees with verbal assessments of a variety of items and three NPT viewers purchased in-home appraisals during televised pledge specials leading up to the event.

There was the usual combination of pleasant and disappointing news about the items brought in for assessment. For example, one woman learned an intriguing basket she’d purchased for $5 at a yard sale is worth…about that. On the other hand, an exquisite platinum ring received from her mother was valued at $6,000. The ring dates from between 1900 and 1925 and has a 1- to 1.10-carat diamond in a miner’s cut.

A young family brought a painting of a goblet by Morris Graves that was given to the husband’s grandmother by the artist in the 1950s (her name is written in the artist’s hand on the back). Graves was a Pacific Northwest painter known for his depictions of animals and “supernaturally radiant flowers,” according to his obituary by New York Times art critic Holland Carter. Graves’ career got an early boost when he was included in a 1948 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. After world travels and brushes with the powerful – Prime Minster Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi; the Duke and Duchess of Windsor – Graves returned to the West Coast and became somewhat of a recluse. His former home, studio and gardens are now a secluded artist retreat nestled within 150 acres of Northern California rain forest.

Marcey Ramos of Phoenix Collaborations (Hermitage) estimated the family’s small painting to be worth between $4,000 and $6,000, based on the few comparable Graves pieces that had come to auction; a larger painting sold for $17,000. This one, still in its original mid-century mounting, will be displayed in the family’s home.

Once again, Appraisal Day attendees were often as interesting as their treasures. A retired CIA employee, for example, talked of traveling to Southeast Asia in the early 1970s for her first post, her young daughter in tow.

(L to R:) Yvonne Smith with Stephen and Elizabeth Smith at Appraisal Day 2017.

Stephen and Elizabeth Smith celebrated 39 years of marriage – yes, to each other, Elizabeth quipped – by attending Appraisal Day. “After 38 years, it’s been there, done that,” Elizabeth said, so she was looking for something special to mark the 39th. The Smiths and their daughter brought a trolley full of items for appraisal, among them Mr. Smith’s Carnegie Medal for heroism and its accompanying documentation, estimated to be worth between $2,500 and $3,500. “We love archival stuff; especially love letters and war letters,” said Wray Williams of Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals (Knoxville).

Meanwhile, a sword believed to be a circa-1862 Civil War relic was harder to appraise; it was deemed to be either in miraculously preserved specimen, or a modern replica. Further tests of the metal are required to confirm its authenticity, but the Smiths were happy with its sentimental value and the fascinating, transatlantic backstory explaining its mint condition. The Murfreesboro couple was also happy to pose for their first anniversary photograph in more than 20 years.

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