Art, antique appraiser Kurt Shaw coming to California

Rachellynn Schoen

Kurt Shaw (right) looks over an item during an appraisal event. Shaw will offer appraisals for art and antiques during an event May 5 at the Center in the Woods in California Borough.

Those familiar with the Antiques Roadshow television series have some idea of how the appraisal of potentially valuable items is done. They’ll have a leg up with a similar experience coming to California.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 5, nationally-recognized and certified member of the International Fine Art Appraisers, Kurt Shaw, will be at the Center in the Woods, just off Route 88 south of California conferring with owners of antiques, collectibles and art to determine their fair market value.

A joint fundraiser for the Center in the Woods and the California Historical Society, the Antique Appraisal encourages people to bring in their items for appraisal at a charge of $10 per item. Advance appointments can be made by phoning the historical society at 724-938-3250 or the Center in the Woods at 724-938-3554.

“During my appraisal, I’ll ask questions and research the item on a computer,” Shaw said. “As a certified appraiser, I have access to information not available to the general public.”

Not only will Shaw provide a fair market value of each item based on how it sells at auction sales and consignment shops, he’ll also give each individual advice on how an auction house works, a list of area auction houses and a recommendation as to which auction house to take their particular item to.

This is the second consecutive year Shaw has provided appraisal services for the fundraiser that benefits both organizations. Last year, on Sept. 13, the plan was for him to be on site for three hours, but so many people showed, up he spent twice that amount of time at the event.

Shaw said some of the most common items people bring in are dinnerware, plates and glass artifacts. Last year, however, the most expensive item turned out to be a 1909 panoramic photo of the Pittsburgh Pirates with star Honus Wagner brought in by a man from Brownsville that he appraised at $8,000.

For big, bulky items too cumbersome to handle like furniture, he asks that people bring in multiple photos of the item taken from the front, back and side as well as photos of any tags or marks on the item. Artworks, no matter their size, have to be brought in for him to see in person.

Shaw said he does appraisals for estates, banks, trust officers of banks, estate lawyers and private individuals for tax purposes and insurance settlements. He also averages 10 public appraisals a year at places like community libraries, senior centers, historical societies, frame shops and art galleries.

In addition to serving as art critic for several area newspapers for 15 years, he’s also a regular guest appraiser on KDKA’s Pittsburgh’s Hidden Treasures.

“Both the Center and the Historical Society are pleased to have Kurt Shaw return for a second visit,” said Mary Beth Graf, society president. “His knowledge has enabled us to better understand the importance of provenance to our vast collections and what an item can really be worth.”

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