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The art of appraisal

Ryerson values antiques, collectibles at SALT?meeting

December 7, 2012
Jim Krajewski - Staff Writer ( , The Daily Freeman Journal


From marbles worth $200 to antique furniture worth hundreds more, auctioneer Mike Ryerson has seen it all.

Article Photos

- Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Jim Krajewski
Auctioneer Mike Ryerson, left, has appraised items for law firms for 35 years. He visited the Southfield Assisted Living Apartments on Thursday to talk about his work and discuss the monetary worth of items that residents brought to the SALT meeting.

A native of Eagle Grove, Ryerson has worked for law offices appraising various items for 35 years assisting with the disposition of family assets. He has presented across north-central Iowa at banks, businesses and more.

"I don't really know a lot, I just tell stories about what I've done over the years and somehow because I've sold it that makes me knowledgeable," Ryerson said. "Some days I wonder if I really know, because I can sell [something] one day for fifty dollars an item, the same item on the next auction three days later can be one-hundred and fifty dollars. So what I think I know isn't always what I know."

He visited Webster City on Thursday to speak at the Seniors and Lawmen Together meeting at Southfield Assisted Living Apartments. About 40 Southfield residents and other community members, including Police Chief Hughes and Sheriff Denny Hagenson, came to hear about Ryerson's line of work. Some also had their valuables appraised.

"I give an opinion on what it's worth and if I've sold one I can tell history stories for days about what I've done, what I've seen and it's kind of a hoot," Ryerson said.

Ryerson often comes across interesting items. On Wednesday in Eagle Grove, Ryerson said he was shown a sleigh made in 1905. He said it was in such bad shape he could see through it. The quality of an item changes the price drastically in his appraisals. He said antique furniture is always worth more with the original paint and wood on it. At this point in his career, Ryerson is used to people disputing his appraisals.

"On something like a family heirloom, an owner always thinks it's worth more than the real market value. 'That was grandma's and I know it's worth more.' Well, a lot of times it isn't. The funny part of life is we all have the same things in our homes. Here in north-central Iowa, most of us had the same stuff in our house," Ryerson said.

The rarity of an item also adds to its value. He said a number of collectible Christmas cups made are barely worth anything since many people still own them. Ryerson said it's the things that people throw away that tend to be worth more. He said the market for marbles is very hot right now, so much so that an antique marble box from 1960 in very good condition can fetch $20 itself.

At Southfield, Ryerson appraised a redwing crock at $40, several paintings, a doll and several other items. Ryerson can tell the worth of an antique doll by the name on the back of the neck, the number of visible teeth and if they eyes move.



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