Treasure: Garage sale find nice but not very valuable

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to the Detroit News
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Rebecca Toby was nervous. “Oh, what’s she going to say?” she mused before an appraisal with Dr. Lori ( at the Novi Home Show. “It’s nerve-racking.”

Toby, of Farmington Hills, was one of the lucky Detroit News readers awarded a free appraisal with the well-known expert as part of a breakfast event.

“I was at a garage sale that I’ve been going to for about 30 years and this caught my eye,” she said of an item she brought in for appraisal. “I have always wondered if it could be real jade.”

Toby said she paid $7 for it and pointed out to the appraiser that it’s signed on the bottom with words that look like “Lazaro.”

Unfortunately that name meant nothing to Dr. Lori. “I have tried to look that name up and nothing comes up,” she told Toby. “My feeling is that this is probably an amateur artist who made it so we will not find much in the way of background to help us out.”

She said that the piece was hand-carved in wax using something called the “lost-wax method.” According to, the lost-wax process, also called cire-perdue, is a “method of metal casting in which a molten metal is poured into a mold that has been created by means of a wax model. Once the mold is made, the wax model is melted and drained away.”

She also said that, unfortunately, the metal isn’t silver or a more quality metal. “This is a base metal, which is really just the cheapest form of metal. If it were a better metal it would be marked, with something like a 925, a lion passant, or a sterling mark.”

She also gave breakfast attendees a quick lesson in jade, explaining that there is a form called “nephrite” as well as one called “spinach jade,” which she said is a dark, dark green. “Jade has a great status in Asia and is used in many pieces.”

She also told Toby that she thinks the piece probably dates to around the 1900s, to a period of intense interest in Asian art. “It’s nicely done, but not of great value,” the appraiser told her. “I would value it at $25 to $35.”

Toby said she enjoyed both breakfast and the chance to meet Dr. Lori despite finding out that her garage sale find isn’t worth a fortune. “I love it anyway,” she added.

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. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item : Candlestick

Owned by : Rebecca Toby

Appraised by : Dr. Lori Verderame

Estimated value : $25 to $35

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