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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What’s It Worth?

Treasures in the Attic

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The example of the lucky few on "Antiques Roadshow" has convinced many thousands of viewers that they, too, might have a treasure in their attic, gold in the cellar, a forgotten masterpiece over their mantle. Although misplaced Ming vases or Rembrandt etchings seldom turn up in Milwaukee, many people own artifacts with some value to collectors. While the landscape painting inherited from grandma probably won't fetch $10 million at Sotheby's, it might change hands locally for $1,000.

That's where the Restoration and Appraisal Clinic comes in. The annual event, held at Landmarks Gallery (231 N. 76th St.), draws long lines of Milwaukeeans clutching heirlooms and objects picked up who knows where. They all hope to have something of value. And if they do, it's often worthwhile having it touched up, repaired or restored to its original luster.

No appointment or reservation is needed. Verbal appraisals are given for free. There are charges for restoration, conservation and written appraisals. The clinic runs noon to 4 p.m., March 21-22.

Since the first Restoration and Appraisal Clinic four years ago, the popularity of the event has only increased. A larger crowd than ever is expected this time. "People are looking at different ways to invest now that they have no faith in the stock market," explains Landmarks' director Mary Manion. In past years customers have brought in items such as a letter from ragtime composer Scott Joplin discovered a the bottom of a dresser drawer, a document signed by the last czar of Russia, a pair of wooden bowls worth $8,000 and WPA paintings from the Great Depression era. Many of these items needed to be cleaned, deacidified or mounted under glass for protection. Cracked paintings can be restored. Damaged family photos can be fixed.

Working behind the counter at this year's clinic will be fine arts appraisers Huetta and Mary Manion; Mark Moran, author of dozens of books on dolls, pottery and other collectibles; digital photo restorer Chris Doughty; and Charles Meyer, restorer of metal objects, silverware and pewter.

"Twentieth century Wisconsin and Midwest Regionalist art is of interest lately like never before," adds Mary Manion, who expects to see some good examples this weekend. "So many local artists painted in those genres that there's no lack of beautiful work to be found in the area."

For more information call Landmarks Gallery at (414) 453-1620.

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