Museum’s guest solves price mystery - East Valley Tribune: West Valley

Museum’s guest solves price mystery

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Posted: Monday, April 11, 2011 10:04 am

Sean Morton put price tags on family heirlooms, garage sale bargains and at least one buried treasure Saturday at a fund-raiser for the West Valley Art Museum.

Dozens of people gathered at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts and donated money to have their valuables — and not-so valuables — appraised.

“We held these events a couple of times a year at our old location,” said Connie McMillin, secretary of the board. “They were always quite popular. Of course we had to put off doing them for a couple of years after we lost our space, but we’re excited to be hosting appraisals once again.”

The appraisals were handled by Morton of Morton Appraisals in Scottsdale. “He’s a professional appraiser, so what he has to say is informed and well-respected,” McMillin said. “People know they are going to get very useful information when they meet with him.”

One person was Mikki Hering, a Phoenix resident who inherited several items from a family member. In addition to a few pieces of crystal, Hering received a Capodimonte porcelain piece she said she had been struggling to learn more about.

“I got in contact with the Phoenix Art Museum and a very helpful person there told me which books to look in, what to look for,” she said. “It’s been very hard to find anything about it. So when I heard about this appraisal I thought this could be a perfect opportunity to learn more.”

Hering said she hoped to learn the value of the item so as to help her decide what to do with it.

“I don’t know whether I could charge $2 or $2,000,” she said. “Or in this economy if it would even be worth trying to sell it. But it’s possible the Phoenix Art Museum might want it. We’ll see.”

Alice George of Glendale procured an intricately carved vase while in the Philippines with her husband in 1968.

“A man was selling items out of his trunk, and the vase was in there,” she said. “I asked if I could have it and he told me it was for someone else. I ended up trading him two cartons of cigarettes for it. You weren’t supposed to do that, but everyone did.”

George said she knows little about the vase and has always wanted to know more.

“All I was told is that it was buried in order to hide it from the Japanese during World War II,” she said. “And when I got the vase it was very dirty. It’s carved and it looks ceramic, but that’s all I know.”

George sat with her daughter, waiting her turn and caught up in the excitement.

“I can’t wait to learn more about it.”

The West Valley Art Museum will play host to another appraisal event May 7. For more information, visit

Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or

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