13 October 2011 3 Comments

How to Appraise an Object

The basic steps are Identify, History, Research, Condition, Rarity and Comparable.


I start my evaluation of an object by simply asking myself what it it?

You do not need to be an expert to do this. Consider the size, material, style and condition. Look for evidence of attribution, such as a signature, stamp, copyright or maker markings. Once you know any of these, it can help you IDENTIFY the piece, which is the first step of appraising.


Once you think you have identified the piece, try to learn the HISTORY.

How old is it? What is/was it used for? What is it’s historical connection? How important was this object at the time? Is is connected to a historical event, person or place?


Now we know a bit about the object and the history, but we need more. Time to research.

The best place to start this RESEARCH is the internet. You can get quick facts and good leads. Usually to get the best information you will need to turn to primary sources. Go to the library, historical society or an archive to help you research.


After I now know what I have and it’s history, I look at the next important component. CONDITION.

When appraising an item, this is key, as if the condition is terrible, it can literally deem the piece worthless. Pay attention to everything, tears, wear, rust, dirt, dents, chips and even restoration. Each of these can decrease the value of an object by 50%.


RARTIY, can add to the value of the piece.

Start searching on line auctions to see if you piece is readily available. You will be able to determine quickly how rare it actually is.


You now need to see what other similar items are selling for.

Look for COMPARABLES at on line auctions, which will help you see what your piece its worth. It is important to remember to only look at the selling price. The asking price means nothing. Only when an object sells to a willing buyer from a willing seller, can we use that price as an appraisal comparable. If you can not find a comparable in an online auction, turn to auction catalogues and look through their price list. Lastly, go to flea markets, galleries or stores to see what they are asking for similar objects.


Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy the hunt, the search for information and the final result! No matter what, you will have gain tons of knowledge!

5 October 2011 0 Comments

Clean House NY on the Style Network!

Wondering what I was doing to keep myself busy all summer?  Well, if you follow me on facebook,  then you know, that I have  joined the cast of ” Clean House New York” , as an appraiser.  The hosts,  Nina Ferrer and Michael Moeller , are joined by me and renowned auctioneer Duncan Schieb .  Basically, I spend my time trying to dig through the overwhelming mess to find valuable treasures to appraise and sell to collectors. At the same time, Ferrer and Moeller with their humor and tough love approach, get to the bottom of the disorganization problems to give the families a mess-free , better home and life.  I try to find the “higher end” items and  take them to buyers, everything  else worth selling is then offered at a yard sale or auction with the proceeds going towards rejuvenating the homeowner’s space with a fabulous makeover.

This is my last week of working on the show.  It has been a blast!  The crew, cost and Executives at the Style Network have become dear friends.  Stay tuned for some behind the scene blogging!

28 February 2011 16 Comments

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New Blog on the Nate Berkus Show.  If  you have something and want an appraisal, let me know!  Send photos to

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6 January 2011 0 Comments

Happy New Year 2011!!

So sorry that it has been a while since I have updated this blog!  I have been busy finishing my book  ” Great Wines under $20″ .   I hope you all enjoy the book.  I am proud to say that you can reorder the book on Amazon.com and  it should be out by May.  The book is about how I,  and you, can find good and enjoyable wine without breaking the bank.  I tried to make the book as simple and easy to follow as possible and I hope you will also learn about wine as read and drink the wine in the book!

History Detectives started in 9th season! I can not believe it has been on for 8 seasons already!  I leave on Monday for my next shoot about the history of Ronald McDonald.  Check and join my fan page on facebook to follow along.

The Nate Berkus has been great!  I have really enjoyed being on his show.  Nate and his staff are so professional, smart and fun to work with it.  If you think you have something that you want appraised, let me know!  Maybe you can come on the show!

Thats it for now!  Happy 2011 to all!

22 September 2010 2 Comments

Check out my fan page on Facebook!

Just go to Fans of Elyse Luray and click like.  I will be posting daily updates!

17 September 2010 17 Comments

Check out how I help people on the Nate Berkus show!

On September 14th I appeared on the Nate Berkus show. I helped a family  ”clean”  their attic and decide what to get rid of, what to save and what to get appraised!  It was so much fun and I was surprised as to how many great items I found in their attic.  In another segment, viewers from the studio audience brought things in for me to appraise!  Check it out! and if you have something, send it in to the show. Maybe you will be picked!


9 September 2010 0 Comments

Back from Tuscany!

Just got back from an amazing trip to Siena in Tuscany. We stayed at the Borgo Scopeto  and I felt as if I was living in a dream.  We traveled to as many small towns as we could. I loved San Gimigmano, Monteriggioni but Siena was my favorite.  It is hard for me to describe the beauty of the towns and countryside. I was able to spend some time with Suzanne at her family vineyard, Setriolo in the Chianti region.  Suzanne showed me how she cares for her Sangiovese grapes, taught me about harvesting, barreling, storing and bottling wine.  She gave my friend and I a great tour  which ended with us sitting on her porch tasting incredible Setriolo Chianti, Reserva and a Super Tuscan.  As most of you know, I am currently researching wines under $20  and Tuscany is a perfect place to do so.  I am almost finished with my book. It will be out in the Spring and I will keep you posted!

22 July 2010 3 Comments

Heading to the Worlds Longest Yard Sale again!

July has been really busy with wine tastings (I am writing a book, more to come later) and  finishing up History Detectives.  We are officially “wrapped” for the season.   Brimfield Antiques show was fun.  Lots of great finds on the fields. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday shopping and was able to furnish my son’s room.  I am planning on shooting the World Longest Yard Sale again for HGTV.  It is the first week in August if anyone is interested.

21 June 2010 4 Comments

Season 8 Premieres Tonight!!!

 Join me online Monday 6/21. I’m co-hosting a live tweet for our new season.  Below is the tag for tonight's tweeter party!
#histdet_pbs Season 8 Premiere from 9-11pm ET. http://to.pbs.org/aXgkX1
It has been a great season!  This year my investigations had me travel to Connecticut, Pennsylvania , Houston, Upstate New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, DC, Virginia, New Mexico, Oregon, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Georgia. I had some great stories, met incredible people and learned so much!
As always, I want to thank the staff at Lion TV and OPB for all your efforts.  Your professionalism, intelligence and support are never ending and each of your contributions make History Detectives on the best shows on history.

10 February 2010 1 Comment

It is a snow day!

It has been a while since I have posted. I have been busy shooting History Detectives as most of you know from following my facebook page.

I recently returned from Houston and Pittsburgh, were I was investigating a boot with magnetics on the bottom of the sole. The owner believed his father had invented it for NASA in the early 1960s, during the “space race” years. The story took me to the Johnson Space Center, Carnegie Mellon University and other towns in Pittsburgh (dont want to give it all away) It was great to learn in depth about Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Joesph Kosmo, who has been an engineer for NASA, for the last 45 years. He worked on Ed White’s space suit and I actually go to see it, up close and personal. I won’t tell you anymore, but stayed tuned. It is a great story!

Last week I visited Belmont University in Nashville, where I was a guest of Judy Billington and the Art Department. What fun I had! It was great to lecture to students, Mark Brown gave me a private tour of the Belmont Mansion and I was at his opening of “the American Experience”. The show had rare examples of 18th and 19th century decorative objects. I also had an evening lecture and was surprised how many people came to hear me lecture about “How to Collect and behind the scenes of History Detectives.”

One of the highlights, was a tour of the Hatch Show Print Shop. What a unique place, with incredible history. I was lucky enough to get a “behind the print shop” tour, viewed their archives of all the incredible acts that have used the Hatch Show shop. I was surprised to see the array of musical talent that is represented in the shop, from blues, to rock, to country music, to present day jam bands.

The staff of the Art Department at Belmont treated me like one of their own. They are all so talented, so dedicated and inspirations to their students. I am particularly impressed with Professor Teresa Granath. She is the founder of Greenbaglady.org. Her bags can be seen all over the world and she is teaching her students to “be green”.

Lastly, as always, I have had some great times with my sons and our friends. As you can see on facebook, we just had a ski trip with 12 other families. Time with my boys always reminds me how lucky I am to have such great people in my life.

and most importantly, WHO DAT!!! Yes, those who know me, know how much New Orleans means to me and I could not be happier from them. A new mayor and a championship is surely a great way to start the new year. Who would have ever of thought that 4 years ago. As I say to my kids, it just shows you….never give up…