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Treasure: Painting a good buy at $10

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Joy Buck of Northville is a fan of garage sales. While living in Harbor Springs, the one-time shop owner often headed to the Upper Peninsula sightseeing with visitors. “Many friends and family came to visit,” she wrote in an email to the column. “My sister and her husband came to see us one time and our husbands went to the Sault to gamble at the casino.” While they did that, she and her sister would sometimes head out on the garage sale trail, she told appraiser Brian Thomczek at a recent Trash or Treasure day held at Judy Frankel Antiques, part of the Antiques Centre of Troy. “It was our favorite thing to do.”

While there, Buck came across a painting she had taken with her on two moves since, she said. She remembers paying $10 for it. Titled “Pheasants,” it has a registration number of 19868 and is signed by “Majewicz,” she told the appraiser. “I have researched his work and feel that this may have value,” she continued. “I have always loved the painting. “I don’t know its value, or if it really has any,” she told the appraiser. “I could never really find out more information about what it’s worth, which is why I wanted to bring it in.”

The back of the oil on canvas is marked “G. Majewicz” and it is signed in the lower right. It also sports a J.L. Hudson’s sticker, often a sign of good quality, says the appraiser. It measures 211/2 by 25 and features three pheasants in a landscape, a rich fall image, says the appraiser. Buck said that she found out a little more about the artist, and that while her information showed he was born in Germany, he was Polish and his forte was birds and wildlife.

Internet research revealed a variety of wildlife and bird images by artist George Majewicz, the possible match for Buck’s piece. The website list the artist’s birth date as 1897 and place as Polkowice/Munchberg and that he died in 1965. George Majewicz, it claims, “specialized in painting landscapes, moreover especially in hunting and animal painting. He derives his motives mostly from the African animal world and devoted himself preferably to the representation of animals in the wilderness in connection with an impressive landscape description.”

Thomczek said the work could use a bit of restoration and cleaning and recommended former DIA employee Ken Katz, who runs the downtown’s Conservation and Museum Services ( He told Buck that the frame alone is worth $150-$200; with the painting he’d appraise it at $300-$500, adding “that could go up if we had time to do more research on the artist and his sales records.”

Either way, he told her that she has a good eye and she should continue her garage sale hobby. “If you paid $10 for this, you did really well. It’s nicely done and definitely by a well-trained hand. Landscape scenes are popular paintings and it would be something that collectors, especially birding enthusiasts, would definitely like.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.

About This Item

Item : Oil on canvas

Owner: Joy Buck

Appraised by : Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser

Estimated value : $300-$500 at auction, maybe more.