Victoria-based antiques appraiser Alison Ross (left) will be appraising items this Saturday at the second annual What’s it Worth fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Appraising antiques like science

Appraising antiques is like a science to Alison Ross.

Appraising antiques is like a science to Alison Ross.

The Victoria-based antiques appraiser, auctioneer and owner of Kilshaw’s Auctioneers Ltd. is able to look at an item and, depending on the item, reveal its unique history to owners within minutes.

As an appraiser, Victoria residents bring their items to Ross, who in turn, gives value to them.

“You pick up an object, you spin it around and you use your experience to determine date, what it is and based on the experience of having sold similar items, you come up with a value,” Ross said. “(We’re) looking for medium, date, style, condition, artist.”

Items as small as grandma’s teacups to larger items such as paintings and furniture can be appraised — some of which have more personal value than monetary.

It can take anywhere from five seconds to hours to appraise an item.

Ross’ love of history started at a young age and in 1994, she completed her master’s degree in art history, with a speciality in northwest coast art. Her work has even led her to research and auction a painting of Tsar Alexander III by Johann Koler, leader of the Estonian national awakening and painter, for $80,000. She also sold a painting by Albert Bierstadt, a German-born American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West, for $200,000.

Though the process of appraising is methodical and similar almost every time, Ross enjoys the aspect of not knowing what history one object can hold.

“You have a structured framework that you follow almost every time, but every time it’s something different,” she said. “Everybody has stuff and everybody wants to know what that stuff is worth.”

Ross, along with fellow appraiser and auctioneer Jeff Dean, will be appraising items at the second-annual What’s it Worth fundraiser for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria this weekend.

Attendees can bring up to two portable items and at least one will be assessed by Ross and Dean.

“I think people are just dying to know about their own pieces that they might have been curious about over the years. Whether it’s a piece of jewellery from the 1940s or whether it’s a signed first edition book. People are very curious to learn more about it. Also, people like to see what other people bring and learn about it. It’s a very fun event,” said Penny Davis, co-chair of the event committee.

All the funds raised will help support exhibitions and programming at the art gallery.

Tickets are $35 and there are two events on Saturday, Feb. 6 — a morning session from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and an afternoon session from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit aggv.ca or call 250-384-4171.