One can tell a lot from a person’s drawers, according to Peter Blundell, antique aficionado.
Bring a drawer, measurements and a picture of an old antique dresser to Blundell, for example, and he can likely tell you what side of the Atlantic your piece of furniture was produced on, along with how much it’s worth.
“There are certain things that Europeans did and North Americans did,” Blundell explains.
“So you can tell quite a bit without seeing the whole piece of furniture.”
The English, for example, had a quarter round—like the end of a broom handle cut into quarters—inserted in the bottom corners of a drawer to prevent shrinkage and stop dust and moths from getting in to wreck the owner’s clothing.
There are also specific types of wood in Europe versus North America, which generally gives away a piece’s origin.
After writing three books on furniture, the Fintry resident says he can even smell an old household furnishing and start compiling information for an appraisal. And early this October he’s going to demonstrate these talents at the Kelowna Art Gallery’s Heirloom Discovery Day fundraiser.
Joined by his friend Anthony Westbridge, owner of Vancouver-based Westbridge Fine Arts and the author of the Canadian Arts Sales Index and Collector’s Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction, the pair will be offering up unofficial appraisals for $35 for anyone wondering how much their antique curios and art works are worth.
Westbridge is a highly regarded art appraiser. The index he compiles pulls together a compilation of data on art sales over $200 from all over the country, keeping him on top of exactly what’s happening in the market.
The pair give unofficial appraisals because they are not able to do the thorough research they would if privately commissioned within the 15-minute time frame set aside.
That said, both know their business well. Blundell says he reads $105 worth of magazines each month and hits roughly 35 antique shops just to stay on top of his game.
He bought his first antique at the age of eight and has lived through the online appraisal age—an idea he says really doesn’t work as the Internet is structured for people to try and get the most for their belongings rather than an accurate accounting.
“I think what happens is people shop for values. If they don’t know what something is worth, they will put a high price on it and then look for someone to bite,” he said.
“And then other people take it as the price that it’s worth.”
Art and antique collection is a tricky business if you’re in it for the business, according to Blundell, who says it’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to be a hit with antique geeks 20 years down the line.
That said, if you love something it’s generally worth it.
His first antique was a Bartlett print and, while his mother thought the $8 he spent on it was a thorough waste of money, he’s managed to assemble a collection of the painter and illustrator’s work he’s clearly taken with.
Westbridge does see worth in the Internet medium, meanwhile.
He is said to be providing opinions about the values Okanagan art with a possible view to taking some works to Vancouver for inclusion in one of his live, online auctions (held monthly).
While art of all kinds will be appraised, he is particularly interested in Canadian art.
Blundell will give opinions on antiques and collectibles, though he cannot appraise jewelry, coins, stamps, guns, and wristwatches.
Pocket watches and swords may be brought in. Individuals who wish to have large furniture pieces assessed are asked to bring in a portion of the piece, e.g., a drawer, along with a photograph, and the item’s measurements.
To make an appointment, please call the Kelowna Art Gallery at 250-762-2226.
Spectators at this free event are welcome. You will need to know which appraiser you would like to see and be able to say what you are brining to the gallery.