Local antique expert to give low cost appraisals at show
“It’s always like a treasure hunt – you never know what you’ll find,” said North Fort Myers resident Jack Minish, of his antique appraisal work.
Minish donates funds from low-cost appraisals – and his time in other capacities – to charities, while helping locals identify antiques they have around their homes at various local events.
On Sunday, Feb. 15, he’ll be part of the Home & Garden Show in Cape Coral at the Coralwood Mall, where he will charge only $5 to appraise a piece brought in by anyone who attends the event. He’ll then donate what he makes to a local charity, and hopefully discover some great finds for an individual.
Minish is a professional appraiser who is also a popular local TV personalty. He hosts the show “Trash or Treasure” on local Waterman Broadcasting stations, something he said he enjoys.
His antique appraisal business spans a five county area in his day-to-day work, including the areas of North Fort Myers, the Cape, Sanibel and Marco Island. He even visits the East Coast for individual appraisals and estate sales.
But he said he also enjoys doing these low-cost appraisals around the local area, that have at times led to a real antique discovery.
“It’s very rewarding when you find an item extremely valuable for someone,” he said. He’s not only discovered these “finds” at events, but also at homes when he goes out and does appraisals.
“Sometimes you just happen upon these things, it might not necessarily be something you go out to appraise, you just notice it while you are there,” he said.
Minish usually charges $100 an hour to appraise in the field, but he finds doing the low-cost appraisals at events a lot of fun. “It’s a way to give back to the community,” he said. He and wife Diane moved to North Fort Myers seven years ago. “We had a lot of friends here, that lived on our street, so we decided to become neighbors. We love this area.”
The antique business wasn’t his first career. He was involved with television and advertising for many years before going into the antique appraisal business in 1992.
While he said he needed to learn a lot about the business, he did have a family history in dealing with antiques. “My mom and dad had an antique business in Kentucky, so I had that background,” he said. “They dealt mainly in furniture, Early American pieces. I had to then gain knowledge in art, glass, sterling silver and more to gain my expertise.”
He then went for a top certification – the Uniform Standards of
Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). It’s the congressionally-recognized set of appraisal standards in his industry, a designation he said was a lot of work.
“I’ve had some hard tests in my life,” he said, “but it was the hardest thing I had ever done, and I even have a private pilot’s license with an instrument rating, which was very difficult to get.”
From his background in television, he branched off into combining his love for antiques, appraising and being behind the camera.
“I started over eight years ago with Waterman Broadcasting, who owns NBC-2 and ABC-7,” he said. “They wanted to have local segments based on the popularity of the Antiques Roadshow. They called it ‘Trash or Treasure,” and they wanted to do Antiques Roadshow-type vignettes.
He’s now on Saturday mornings on NBC-2 at approximately 10:20 a.m.
His wife Diane is his confidant and business partner.
“I’m the voice people hear when they call for appointments,” she said. “I assist him in the business and with the books and run our schedule.”
“I’m like the CEO and she’s like the CFO,” he said.
Diane said the best thing she likes about their chosen business is the diversity.
“When we go to these different meetings and estate sales, it’s something different everyday,” she said.
Minish has been doing the home and garden show events for several years.
“William Anderson, president of the Florida’s Home & Garden Show franchises, decided to give me a booth where I could do the low-cost appraisals for local residents. I’ll be at the Cape Coral show Sunday Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and whatever people bring in, antique or collectable, I’ll appraise for $5.”
With that said, he said, he wants people to know this is not an exact science. “Nobody knows everything. I bring reference books and a laptop computer for Internet access search. I may not always have the perfect definitive answer, but I will be able to provide some information to point them in the right direction.”
He said he’s had some real finds occasionally with these appearances. “If I think it’s worthy enough, I may advise them to contact Sotheby’s or Christie’s or say, Skinner’s in Boston – the big auction houses. They are phenomenal with the right piece,” he said. “I have had people bring things down, not knowing what they have. I had a couple that had a painting who drove to Fort Myers from Naples. It was a masterpiece from an estate.”
He said the couple has originally contacted a prominent auction house but had had no luck with the appraisal. “I’m not bragging, but I did find the artist.” He said artist’s signatures are sometimes very hard to read, and this dark forest scene painting came up with his research.
“We nailed it. It was worth about $18,000,” he said.Minish said his appraisals at the show can take from a minute to 20 or 25minutes, depending on how complex his research is.
He also does “house calls” where he will go locally for a $100 per hour fee. Licensed in Lee County, he does business as Jack Minish Estate
Appraisals, and has compiled over a thousand appraisals for the courts,attorneys, Real Estate agencies, the Guardian Program of the State of Florida administered through Lee, Charlotte, Collier, and Hendry Counties,and bereaved families.
He’s also state licensed, and is an Associate Member of the Appraisers Association of America.
He’s donated time and money to Habitat For Humanity, the Lee County Library System and more.
You can learn more about Minish – and see Trash or Treasure TV segments – on his Web site at: jackminish.com.