The Vintage Purse Gallery is very excited to share our email interview with Dr. Lori, the star antiques appraiser on the Discovery channel's international hit TV show, Auction Kings. Dr. Lori has shared her expertise with television audiences on Anderson LIVE, Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NBC TV's The Tonight Show, Inside Edition, and Lifetime Television. Dr. Lori is an award-winning TV personality, internationally syndicated columnist, author, and TV talk show host with the Ph.D. in art history. Dr. Lori presents more than 150 events (www.DrLoriV.com/events) every year and conducts in home appraisal visits (www.DrLoriV.com/pick) and video call appraisals where she reviews approximately 20,000 items a year.
Vintage Purse Gallery: In your work as a Ph.D. antiques appraiser, have you had the opportunity to give history and values for any purses or purse accessories (compacts, lipstick cases, cigarette holders, change purses, etc.)? Please describe a few items that particularly stand out to you.
Dr. Lori: In my years of appraising objects for clients worldwide through my in-home appraisals, video call appraisals, and live appraisal stage show events, I have appraised many vintage purses, handbags, satchels, and related purse accessories including compacts, lipstick cases, change purses, cigarette and calling card holders, etc. For instance, I see a lot of purses from the 1920s in metal mesh and beadwork. They are valued between $50 and $250 each and they have unique construction methods at you can see in this video from my TV appearance on Lifetime Television at http://goo.gl/vvkApL.
VPG: Do you have any interesting stories about clients who have asked for an appraisal of a vintage purse or purse accessory?
DL: I recall one client who had a large collection of vintage purses. The collection required insurance coverage with a professional written appraisal. The collection featured examples of purses with delicate hand-stitched bead work, Art Deco metal mesh, 19th Century French petite point needlework, etc. This collector hung the purses on display in her bedroom, private bathroom, and walk-in closet walls. They were installed like small scale works of art by color and theme. They looked just fabulous.
VPG: What criteria do you use to assess the value of a vintage purse or purse accessory?
DL: As with other art or antique objects, I consider quality, condition, provenance, maker, and comparable sales records when assessing the value of vintage purses or accessories. Comparable sales records are key. I appraised a purse just like your real estate appraiser appraises a house—comparable sales. When you hear values for purses and accessories, make sure you know what type of value you are receiving. I outline the three most common types of values at http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4124/Values-Auction-Insurance-Retail.
VPG: Is there an era for vintage/antique purses—or fashion in general—that you find especially fascinating? Why?
DL: I have written many books on the art and antiques of the post war era (1940s-1960s) and the period fashion accessories from that time are of particular interest to me. World War II innovations sparked the use of new and re-considered materials by the fashion industry like lucite, vinyl, faux animal prints and furs. As women came of age in the workplace during the 1950s and 1960s, business fashion evolved into more modern designs much like the other common collectibles of the 1960s. Learn more about the cool collectibles of that era at http://www.DrLoriV.com/Tips/ID/79/1950s-1960s-Collectibles.
VPG: When someone comes to you for an appraisal of a purse or accessory, is there a distinct demographic? Age range, gender, etc.? Have they usually inherited the item or picked it up at an antique store, flea market, thrift shop, online, etc.? Are they collectors or do most just have the one item? Or do your clients run the gamut?
DL: My clients run the gamut…20 year olds who love to dress in vintage couture and who shop at vintage boutiques, flea markets, estate sales, and yard sales. I provide yard sale shopping tips at http://www.DrLoriV.com/Tips/ID/68/Yard-Sale-Tips which can be helpful when seeking out that vintage purse or other accessories. There are many of my clients who are 40 year olds who remember grandma by preserving a vintage handbag that was inherited. Some baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are downsizing and cleaning out some unwanted objects yet just won’t part with a beloved purse or purse accessory and even seniors are sharing their old handbags from the 1930s and 1940s with their grandchildren and great grandchildren. There isn’t a distinct demographic for purse collectors… anyone with a sense of style knows that vintage and antiques purses are cool.
VPG: Has the value of vintage/antique purses risen in the last decade? By approximately what percentage? Or, conversely, have values—in general, or of a specific type of purse—declined?
DL: I have seen the market rise over the last decade as a greater interest in nostalgia, collecting, and history has taken place in our culture. With television shows like Discovery’s Auction Kings where I am the star appraiser, I have seen a strong interest in collecting vintage objects. Beware, you hear many mis-truths about values. I reveal some of the pitfalls to avoid at http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4087/Are-Antiques-Values-too-High.
VPG: Is there a type of purse (for example: mesh, Lucite, leather, wooden, etc.) or a vintage purse maker (for example: Llewellyn, Midas of Miami, Whiting & Davis, etc.) that you would recommend people start (or continue) collecting?
DL: Based on my extensive museum and appraisal experience, I will share with you the tip that I share with all of my audience members, I recommend that you collect in a category… it doesn’t matter if that category is broad or narrow. When I worked in museums and taught at major universities, this tip is the most important one when amassing a valuable and interesting collection: Collect in a category. Brand names are good for maintaining value and start collecting early so you can learn as much as possible about your collection. And when you are building that collection, don’t forget to negotiate when you buy. Stick to my tips at http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4136/Negotiate-when-Antiques-Shopping.
VPG: Do you recommend that collectors only purchase items that are mint or near mint?
DL: Condition is a key value indicator so look for pieces in good shape.
VPG: What do you think are the “next” collectibles when it comes to the vintage purses of the future?
DL: Military-themed purses are going to continue to raise in value as we approach the 100th anniversary of World War I and purses and accessories based on toy (Lego, Lincoln Logs, etc.) designs or forms will also continue to be popular with collectors.
A HUGE thank you to Dr. Lori for this very valuable information. To learn more about Dr. Lori and her work, visit her website, www.DrLoriV.com. To get an appraisal of your item(s), see her contact info below.
—Dr. Lori evaluates 20,000 objects every year at more than 150 events worldwide. She holds the Ph.D. from Penn State University in the field of art history and antiques and provides verbal and written appraisals for collectors including online reviews at http://www.DrLoriV.com/written. Visitors may attend Dr. Lori’s events—many of which offer an appraisal at no charge—which are listed on the events schedule at www.DrLoriV.com/events Dr. Lori offers a FREE online newsletter and blog along with tips for buyers and sellers at www.DrLoriV.com. Contact email is www.DrLoriV.com/contact and phone number is 888-431-1010.