Welcome, treasure hunters

Get your much-loved, much-worn possessions appraised on Zoom.

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Mike Ivankovich is an appraiser of antiques and collectibles. — Courtesy Vineyard Haven library

Mike Ivankovich’s part-time hobby in antiques turned into a career more than 40 years ago. In the beginning, Mike and his wife Sue became national experts on Wallace Nutting, who among other things, sold millions of hand-tinted photographs between 1900 and 1940. They ran auctions of his pictures, as well as his furniture and books, in 10 states. The market changed, and so they decided to exit it.
“All our clients, like me, got older; stopped collecting or slowed down; and their kids didn’t want any of it,” Ivankovich said. “All of a sudden, I looked around and realized the same thing was happening in most antique collecting categories. The kids just didn’t want the stuff. My generation was confused. They thought it was worth what it used to be, not what it is worth today.”
He and Sue began doing “What’s It Worth?” road shows. Ivankovich says, “Then COVID hit. Last October, we realized that libraries weren’t going to have live programs for a while, the way they used to. So we turned our live program into a Zoom program, and it worked.” And it’s been going like gangbusters. They have done some 250 programs in 24 different states to date.
Fortunately for us, we will have a chance on Thursday, Nov. 4, to interact with Ivankovich ourselves.
“We will talk value, and, if people are interested in selling it, we will talk options,” Ivankovich said. “We can make recommendations of whether or not to send it to auction, put it on eBay, do a garage sale, or donate it. We don’t have an agenda, because we’re not trying to buy it from them.”
Ivankovich explained that you may get more money if you’re willing and able to do the most work, which includes getting ready and running a garage sale; selling at a flea market (which includes packing, standing on your feet, running a pay table); or the listing, packing, and shipping items for eBay.
If unwilling or unable to do the most amount of work, you should expect less money when you sell at auction, since you must pay commissions and delivery expenses; or sell wholesale to a dealer who will seek to sell at a retail price to yield a profit.
The Zoom session will begin with Ivankovich doing a 10-minute discussion on “10 Factors That Will Always Impact the Value of Your Treasures.” He says, “One of the problems is that too many people think their item is worth X. But there are a whole lot of factors that come into play to determine value. First, if you want the most amount of money, you have to be able to do the most amount of work. Second, what you pay for something has no bearing on what you sell it for today. And third, if the younger generation doesn’t want it, you probably won’t get as much as you want. We aren’t going to sugarcoat it. We’re going to tell you what we honestly think.”
During the appraisal portion of the program, the first 25 attendees who sign up will get to show him their treasure, one by one. The person will hold the item up to the camera. Proper camera positioning will be important, because if Ivankovich can’t see the item, he won’t be able to appraise it. Likewise, since he can’t see the item in person, he’ll probably ask a few questions about markings, condition, its provenance, and so forth. He will then give you what he believes is the fair market value. If you want to sell, you’ll get recommendations of where to do so. Participants should have one backup item. That way, if Ivankovich can’t virtually appraise the primary item, he can appraise the backup one. Throughout the program, he will also be sharing many buying and selling tips and strategies.
Ivankovich says he tries to make the experience fun, and an opportunity to learn something. Ever wonder what karats really mean when it comes to gold jewelry? Well, turns out pure gold is 24 karats. So, if you have a piece of gold jewelry that’s 18-karat gold, it means your piece is 75 percent pure gold and 25 percent base metal. If it’s 14-karat gold, it’s at about 58.5 percent.
“We make it fun, and we try to make it interesting. We love what we do, and we joke that we get paid to look at other people’s treasures. Life’s great,” Ivankovich says.

“What’s it Worth? Your Treasures Appraised by Mike Ivankovich,” on Thursday, Nov. 4, from 6:30 to 8 pm. The first 25 people who sign up can have an item appraised. Register on the Edgartown library website calendar at bit.ly/AppraiseThat. You can find additional information about Ivankovich at michaelivankovichappraisals.com.