Trash or Treasure? Real or fake?

Credit: NBC Charlotte

Trash or Treasure? Real or fake?


by DION LIM / NBC Charlotte

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 8:18 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For this week’s round of Trash or Treasure, we brought in Christina Whitson, a fine arts appraiser from Art Appraisal Services, to help Jan Durr of Robbins Appraisals in authenticating several items.

Our first guest is viewer Carolyn Kurth.  Clutched in her arms is a painting by a prominent Wisconsin-born artist.

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“Alexander Mueller was my grandmother’s brother in-law.”

Upon first glance, Whitson identifies some condition issues, such as nicotine staining in the varnish, and some tearing of the canvas.  However, something else is more troubling.

“There’s no evident signature found.  Carolyn thinks it’s below the frame.”

If the painting is removed from its frame by a professional, and is discovered as real, Whitson says she’s seen Mueller works sell at auction for $4000 to $10,000, depending on size.

“[But] that was prior to the crash of 2008.”

Now? A genuine Mueller of this size will sell for around $200.

Up next, Jan Durr takes a look at an old President Lincoln newspaper from viewer Jim Robertson.

“My father is a Civil War historian, and this was in a pile of things he wanted to discard.”

Right away, Jan sees some telltale signs the piece could be a fake.

“The number here is incorrect, and the dark bands [along the columns] is another clue.  The paper itself, they didn’t use this particular rendering of Lincoln either.”

Despite the findings, Robertson is satisfied, and still plans to keep the paper.

“It’s a piece of my father’s history.  I’ll hang on to it, and give it to the kids.”

While the rest of the items are authentic, like a shoe button hooks, a Bomber fishing lure, and a sewing machine, they’re all worth between $5 and $50. 

But each guest seems to agree with the sentiments shared by Carol Biegel, who brought in the shoe button hook. 

“It was  apiece that was my mom’s and it was a piece I’ve had for a very long time….the memories are worth a whole lot more.”

Appraiser Jan Durr can be reached through her company’s website, Robbins Appraisals.

Art appraiser Christina Whitson of Art Appraisal Services, can be reached at