Treasure: UM grad, TV appraiser comes to Novi home show

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Fans of Discovery Channel’s hit TV show “Auction Kings” know Dr. Lori – aka Lori Verderame – the University of Michigan grad who rose to fame telling others about their trash and treasure. As the show’s appraiser, she travels the world appraising approximately 20,000 objects annually at more than 150 events.

With a Ph.D. and both museum and appraising experience, she’s in demand at fairs and home shows around the country, including this weekend’s Novi Home Improvement Show (see calendar on 4H for details). We caught up with her to find out what’s new – and old – in the world of antiques.

Q. What do you predict will be the top collectibles/antiques for 2016?

A. Items that say something about the way we live now are the antiques of the future. Technology is vital to our culture now—old computers, vintage video games, devices, Star Wars memorabilia are just the tip of the collectibles iceberg. I always say collect what’s coming. There is so much cool futuristic stuff out there.

Q. What is currently undervalued?

What people undervalue is their own antiques. Most people think that everyone else’s antique is valuable but that their own antique is not! The biggest myth in the antiques world is believing the people who want to buy your antiques cheaply and tell you that your antiques are worthless.

Q. What do you collect?

A. I collect America’s antiques stories! The people and the stories are the most interesting things that come to me at my appraisal events. Every object comes with a story. I appraise everything from soup to nuts. Any object is fair game! Some of these objects from my appraisal events have even become the focus of TV shows like George Washington’s wallet, which was recently featured on Fox Business Network’s Strange Inheritance. At the Home Show, I’ll share tips that others don’t know or don’t want you to know. I’ve evaluated such rare and unusual items as President Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 campaign button, Napoleon’s good luck charm, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and the astronaut’s moon boot from Apollo 13. As a collector, I have a soft spot for vintage jewelry, unusual birdhouses and chocolate.

Q.What would be your dream piece?

A. I couldn’t choose one. I have seen so many dream pieces at my shows and in people’s homes—Tiffany lamps, Andy Warhol paintings, Civil War swords, etc. Antiques make a statement in your home and they say a lot about you. Antiques reflect your personality.

Q. What reference books should every collector should own?

A. Many of the books on antiques are not telling the whole story. I am not a big fan of price guides or antique picture books since they don’t really teach people about the history of objects and the values are not accurate or current. EBay is a problem and I’ll explain why at my shows. My live stage shows are much more fun than reading through some reference book. Come to my appraisal event at the Novi Home Show and learn all about your art and antiques.

Q.Biggest surprise in traveling the country advising about antiques?

A. I have met so many young people who love antiques. The millennials are very interested in antiques now more than ever. Don’t believe the excuses that others tell. They want to know about the background of objects they grew up with from their grandma’s house, they love DIY projects where they repurpose old stuff and make something new. They are some of the best yard sale hunters and flea market pickers in the business. Young couples antique-hunt for their new homes, too. And, what’s more, I have many children (ages 7 to 17) who follow and often bring their collections to my events for appraisals.

Q. What has it been like doing the Discovery show?

A. Discovery’s Auction Kings is a worldwide hit which airs in countries around the globe. I am happy to be part of the fun. I have traveled the world, met fans, and enjoy working with Discovery and our super cast while appraising fascinating antiques, art and collectibles.

Q.What does the future hold?

A. For me, I will continue to share my expertise in all media and I will travel to present my live appraisal shows. If the past is an indicator, there will be many more cool antiques to be appraised along the way, too! At the Novi Home Improvement Show, I will reveal my favorite new home products that will help you protect your biggest asset – your home and the valuable objects in it.