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Chappaqua Collectors Look for Hidden Gems in Appraisals

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – The New Castle Historical Society kicked off its annual appraisal series at the Chappaqua Library on Tuesday. Dozens of residents appeared in the library’s theater to have art and antique items appraised by guest speaker Jack McAuliffe in hopes of finding hidden gems.

“We’ve co-sponsored this series with the New Castle Historical Society now for – we’re not sure if it’s seven or eight years – but it’s been a long time,” said Joan Kuhn, program coordinator at the library. “It’s one of our most successful series.”

Initially, residents were invited to have two items appraised, but due to a bigger-than-expected turnout, were limited to just one. “I guess the weather was conducive to a huge turnout,” said Susen Blumenfeld, program coordinator for the historical society.

Before beginning his appraisals, McAuliffe offered tips to residents on the value of re-prints, silkscreen paintings, water color paintings, and more. He recommended never to purchase a work of art online, as pictures can be deceiving. McAuliffe added that a paintings’ value typically lies with the fame of the painter.

McAuliffe did not take a typical path to becoming an art appraiser. Rather than taking art courses, he gained his expertise simply through attending exhibitions. McAuliffe’s mother owned an antique shop in Brooklyn, and as much as he may have tried to avoid it, he could not deny the he “had an eye" for art.

“She tried to get me involved, but of course, I was more involved in sports and whatnot,” said McAuliffe, who attended Boston College on basketball scholarship from 1956-60. “Somewhere there must have been a little osmosis along the way. I first went from jewelry to silver, then I met my love in the arts.”

The New Castle Historical Society also took the event as an opportunity to introduce its newest president, Betsy Guardenier. “The New Castle Historical Society is really thrilled to co-sponsor this appraisal series. So many of you have shown up today, this is terrific,” she said.

The historical society will continue its series at the library next Tuesday when it welcomes John Felz, a certified appraiser, who will be looking at trains, toys and dolls. The following Tuesday, Michael Kalesti, owner of Kent Home in Chappaqua, will be speaking on mid-century furniture.

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