Antique Industry Struggles With Economy, But Curiosity About Past is Strong

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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The down economy has been tough on many people in the antiques industry. That's why many people are calling this a "buyer's market." But economics have not dampened people's curiosity.

That curiosity was in action Friday night at the West Side Christian Church in Wichita's Delano neighborhood.

As Wichita's Dave Greger pushed a painting across the table there Friday night, a history lesson began.

"It hung in my grandmother's house until she passed away," Greger said.

Certified appraiser Brady Dreasher took over from there.

"Looks like there's going to be some significant value to this piece," Dreasher said.

After inheriting the painting, Greger's curiosity swelled and he wanted to confirm the artist and era.

Dreasher helped him do that.

He came to the conclusion it is likely a rare painting by Mary Beale whose work dates back to the 1600's.

"It's surprising the things people collect and the value they have," said Delano Neighborhood Association Treasurer Dorothy Crouch.

Crouch started this antique appraisal event last year. She has a booth at the Delano Antique Mall and knew of other people in the historic neighborhood who also had interest in antiques.

"I've watched the Antique Roadshow on TV before and everybody seems so interested in that," Crouch said. "So why not bring it to Wichita and do our little miniature Antique Roadshow?"

It's a way to raise money for her community and draw the neighborhood together. It's also a way for her to pass on her love of antiques to the next generation.

"It's important to keep up the tradition of collecting things from the past," Crouch said.

Even if the pastime has a new look. For example, few appraisers use a paper price guide anymore. Instead they use a smartphone to look up information.

But people in Delano say what hasn't changed is human curiosity about the value of the relics of their past.

"It's just a lot of fun," Crouch said.

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