The Granite Library will be filled with more than books come August 7th. That whole week, Mark Moran will be hosting "What's it Worth?" an antique appraisal event in line with the Antiques Roadshow.
Moran started out as a collector, then got into antique dealing. In the 1990s, he started writing antique reference books, he's up to 27 published now. As he was writing, he realized that there was a market for antique assessment. Little did Moran know that his expertise and love would grow to dominate a good portion of his days.
He does around 130 events a year, which is roughly two or three a week. Events are sometimes booked over a year in advance. The events take him all over the Midwest, leaving his wife of 44 years and two dogs at home.
Their home is running out of wall space. Moran's current interest for collecting is fine art. Fine art is his favorite thing to assess during the events as well. The reason is mostly his familiarity. His father was an artist, and Moran grew up surrounded by art and art books. It's about just "speaking the language" of fine art. There are other areas he's not as well versed in, but over the decades he's picked up quite a breadth of knowledge. Usually if he does get stumped during an appraisal, it's because he's looking at a partial piece of an antique, instead of one that's intact.
According to Moran, now is a good time to be a buyer. Prices have been declining across all types of antiques. One reason is that the older generations are "downsizing," a shift from the previous mindset of surrounding oneself with "stuff that makes us feel good." The younger generations are also more focused on experience and connection over materialism. It's nice for those who want to buy art for the sake of having a nice piece of art, not just buying antiques as an investment to keep locked away in a warehouse, which is a different kind of appreciation.
The appraisal events are useful for making sure those downsizing don't accidentally throw away treasure, or sell something valuable for a dollar. Moran loves the challenge of walking in to a room of 40 foreign objects, and having to identify them, tell the owner about the backstory, and entertain.
Most of the people he's met care a lot more about "finding out if the stories handed down are true" more than the monetary value. Moran is happy to share his information and passion and is happy to have that be his way of life.