Arts Listings

Appraisal Extravaganza: Our Own ‘Antiques Roadshow’

By Marta Yamamoto Special to the Planet
Friday April 14, 2006

Is there really a secret behind the crystal perfume bottle passed down from your grandmother? What about the French landscape you bought at a hotel liquidation sale in Hawaii for $5? Could it be valuable? Join the Appraisal Extravaganza and these mysteries will be solved. 

On April 27 the University Section Club is sponsoring a fundraiser supporting Cal student services—Berkeley’s own Antiques Roadshow with enticing extras. Held at the Clars Auction Gallery, a sponsor of television’s Antiques Roadshow, and one of the largest auction houses in the Western United States, the evening promises to expand your appreciation skills in several artistic venues. Expert appraisers, sophisticated jazz music, a stimulating art lecture, great wine and food will combine to produce—an extravaganza. 

The appraisal clinic will feature experts in four distinct fields: jewelry and timepieces, Asian art, decorative art (china, glass, furniture, collectibles) and fine art. Each admission will cover the verbal appraisal of two items. While you eagerly await the verdict on the Bengal tiger claw jewelry from British India you’ll be tapping your toes to the sparkling sounds of the piano work of Frederick Hodges. 

Trained as a concert pianist, this California native instead chose to perfect the 1920s ragtime sheet music he discovered in his grandmother’s piano bench. As a UC undergraduate he served as pianist and singer with the Royal Jazz Orchestra and later soloed at society parties and Nob Hill hotels. Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Rogers and Hart, hits from the Great American Songbook—Hodges’ lively interpretations will keep your spirits high even as you discover that the stylized Asian sculpture you bought for $1,500 is a reproduction from 1965 and only worth $400. 

Midpoint through the evening Margaret Lovell, professor of art history and director of American studies at UC Berkeley, will speak on “Why Furniture Collectors Need To Know the Trees.” Well known for her book Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans and Patrons in Early America, Lovell researched how 18th century life was influenced by art making and purchasing. 

She used the material world as evidence of both aesthetic and ideological concerns in eighteen-century British North America. Exploring the theme of kinship, Lovell used family portraits as primary sources and then expanded the theme to artists and their patrons. Her lecture is certain to appeal to antique hunters and everyone who appreciates a Louis XV Bureau Plat with fire-gilded embellishments or a “Manxman Piano” by M.H. Baillie Scott in the Arts and Crafts style. 

Wine, hors d’oeuvres and lovely floral arrangements will add to the gala atmosphere. To protect those family heirlooms, security guards will be on hand and young men will provide car escort service at the evening’s end. The price of your ticket, aside from guaranteeing a memorable evening, is of value in a different sense as well. 

The University Section Club, sponsoring this event, has been raising funds to support Berkeley students for almost eighty years. Bringing together members of the administration and staff in special interest groups, social cement is laid, offering opportunities for friendship and service. Through aid to individuals, student-support groups, scholarships and foreign student related activities, this organization brings people and students together in common goals, forming one large university family.  

SOS, the Services Offered Students committee, keeps its members busy in a variety of well-appreciated projects. Volunteers can be seen at the Tang Center and Albany Village Nursery School. The Foreign Student Committee works with International House to help with housing, the loan of equipment and sponsors activities to make newcomers feel at home. The Center, weekly meetings for spouses and children at the YWCA, offers social outlets and addresses practical concerns. Orientations are held monthly at International House and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to address immigration matters and discuss campus and community services available to foreign students. 

Funds raised through donations and events go directly to students requiring emergency loans, grants and scholarships. They also provide financial support for Albany Village, the Tang Center and projects for disabled and re-entry students. It’s clear that the proceeds from this grand event will go directly to several worthy causes. 

As to your mystery appraisals, this may be your lucky night. Grandmother’s perfume bottle, from 1912, is a rare Rene Lalique original, valued at between $30,000 and $40,000. Your $5 investment has increased to $40,000. The French Riviera painted by Louis Aston Knight never looked so good.  



Appraisal Extravaganza 

5-8 p.m. Thursday, April 27 at the Clars Auction Gallery, 5644 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Reserve tickets are $30 before April 20; limited tickets at the door are $40. For more information, contact Joan Finnie at 841-7521 or Louise Kaufmann at (925) 253-9292.9