PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Appraiser Karen Sampieri examines a gold pocketwatch during Saturday’s appraisal event in Riverhead. The watch was valued at between $400 and $1,000.
That’s what the hastily scribbled signature at the edge of the faded etching Jose Capitulo was holding spelled. Or, at least, that’s what he thought it spelled.
“Gustave Greux,” he said, as more of a question than a statement of fact. He had done some homework on the yellowed piece of art he and his wife Lorina bought at an estate sale along with a pile of old books. The best result was that Greux, a French engraver from the last 19th century.
A search or two on the Internet had turned up little about the work of art portraying a young woman sitting by a tree, or its potential value.
So on Saturday morning, Mr. and Ms. Capitulo trekked from North Babylon to the Hyatt Place East End in Riverhead to be one of hundreds to have their antique art, jewelry and knickknacks appraised by New York City auctioneers.
More than 500 items ranging from old hockey sticks to silver rings to picture frames were valued as part of the appraisal day, hosted by East End Arts, said the organization’s executive director Pat Snyder.
“It’s been a blast so far,” she said as she surveyed the dozens of people on line waiting for their turn.
The appraisals were done by Heritage Auctions, the same company that was used in some episodes of “Antiques Roadshow,” and each appraiser had a specialty. One was an expert in jewelry, another fine art, yet another a master of coins and rare currency.
Most of those who waited on line for hours to have their heirlooms valued didn’t strike gold at the appraisers table.
More than one set of grandma’s old rings turned out to be just worth its weight in metal, while another golden pocket watch was determined to be average for the time period and worth around $400.
Still, Mr. and Ms. Capitulo were hopeful their estate sale find would net them a healthy profit.
As the pair sat across the folding table in the appraisal room, appraiser Aviva Lehmann snapped open a handheld magnifier and hunched over the etching. She didn’t recognize the name of the artist, and a search through her database revealed no notable matching sales.
Gustave Greux, whoever he was, probably didn’t make the Capitulo’s piece.
The condition of the 19th century etching — frayed and acidified at the edges — only further deducted from the value, Ms. Lehmann declared.
The final determination: the etching was worth no more than $50 to $100. It probably wasn’t even worth investing any money into the restoration, Ms. Lehmann said..
“It’s very well done,” she said apologetically. “It’s beautiful. I would hang it.”
The couple tucked the artwork away with the paper it came from. Sure, they said, the etching wasn’t worth big bucks. But it was still a good deal.
“We got it for 2 dollars, so we’re pretty happy,” Ms. Capitulo said.