Susan Sturdivant: Kim Leeson

Susan Sturdivant: Kim Leeson

Did you know you should never store textiles next to wood or paper? Over time, the acid from the wood or paper will leak out and burn the textile fibers.

Did you know you shouldn’t use silver dip cleaner because it strips off a layer of silver?

Unless you’ve spent as many years as East Dallas appraiser Susan Sturdivant has, researching antiques and mining through art history books, there’s no reason why you would.

“People think that because something is old, it’s valuable, and that’s not necessarily true.”

“I read until my eyes bled and studied until my head fell off to learn everything I could about antiques,” Sturdivant says.

That’s a lot of studying, but there’s no reason why you need to do that — because Sturdivant and a dozen other appraisers already have, and the Dallas Woman’s Forum is gathering them all together to help East Dallas neighbors out.

On March 8-9, neighbors can attend Antiques at the Alexander to learn helpful hints, hear entertaining and informational talks about antiques and appraising, and bring their own antiques in for a value guesstimation.

Appraising antiques can be quite a task, but Sturdivant gets a kick out of it.

“Even as a full-time therapist, I always said that if I won the lottery I would go back to school and study art history,” she says. “When I discovered appraising, that was kind of a way I could do that and make a living doing it.”

She taught herself on the job (hence the “studied until my eyes bled” comment), and she soaked up as much information as she could from other appraisers.

“Every appraisal is different. I’ve appraised everything from fine art and Asian antiques to Klan robes,” she says.

During the event, Sturdivant plans to speak about an appraisal she once did on a piece of French porcelain.

“There were no marks on it, but there was a family crest,” she explains. “I don’t know why, but I decided I wanted to know about that crest. I spent months learning about the crest, and I can now tell you all about the Carroll family of Maryland.”

If you want to hear the extended version, you’ll have to go to the event, but to summarize: After lots of reading, Googling and making a few phone calls, Sturdivant managed to figure out the individual who originally bought the porcelain and brought it to the United States.

”It’s like solving little mysteries.”

And that’s what’s so fun about it, she says. Knowing the back-story of an antique can help raise the value, especially if it belonged to someone famous.

But not all appraisals are so complicated. With most pieces, appraisers will simply give a value based on how much it would cost to replace it with a similar piece.

At the Antiques at the Alexander event, the appraisers hope to help neighbors determine whether their items are “trash or treasure” and whether they are worth a more extensive appraisal.

“Often times, what people think is really valuable is usually not,” Sturdivant says. “People think that because something is old, it’s valuable, and that’s not necessarily true.”

Proceeds will benefit the restoration of the historic Alexander Mansion at 4607 Ross, where the event will be held. The Alexander Mansion was built in 1904 and is where the Dallas Woman’s Forum convenes.

The event features two days of lectures, lunch and appraisals. Call 214.823.4533 or visit for more information and ticket prices.

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