Category Archives: Travel, Shop, Eat by Dr. Lori

Historic Quebec

One of the oldest cities in North America and the only walled city north of Mexico, Quebec is located on the St. Lawrence River. The city’s name Kébec (Quebec) is an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”. Quebec’s old city was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in North America.

Boasting the largest francophone population outside of France, Quebec is a wonder for architectural enthusiasts. While the promontory serves as a natural fortress at the top of which Samuel de Champlain had Fort Saint-Louis built in 1620, the walls protect the city from would-be attackers. After the War of 1812, a star-shaped citadelle was built to provide more security and a residence for the Lt. Governor General.  

The city is famous for its warm people, breathtaking vistas, and  historic district on Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond). Along the famous promenade boardwalk, Dufferin Terrace, stands the most photographed hotel in the world, Chateau Frontenac. Located in the heart of the city, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company built Quebec City’s castle as it has been called in 1892-93. The hotel served as a war-time meeting place for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada during World War II. The 618 room hotel has recently unveiled the results of a multi-million dollar renovation project.

Upper Town’s Old City also offers a dramatic view of the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding countryside. A stroll along the bustling Rue St. Jean will reveal historic buildings, trendy cafes, boutiques, and majestic homes.

For C$2, you can ride the funicular and take in the 19th Century architectural marvels that line the streets. Stone walls, copper rooftops, and steepled churches demonstrate Upper Town’s position as the city’s cultural center.

The Hotel du Parlement (National Assembly) is striking in its Second Empire style referencing the type of architecture reserved for prestigious political and administrative buildings. The central clock tower and expansive design remind visitors of the work taking place inside while the adjacent outdoor fountain, Fontaine de Tourny, is a traditional and creative spot. The reverence to the city’s religious roots cannot be denied when visiting the Roman Catholic basilica, Notre Dame du Quebec, the seat of the local Archdiocese. Designed by Jean Baillairge and his son Francoise who revisited the architectural project that began in1633 and gave the basilica a decidedly Neo-Classical feel.

Quebec is a walkable, sophisticated city rich in history and full of contemporary attractions. The architecture dots the landscape and documents this Canadian city’s fascinating background from the early settlers of the 1500s to the intellectuals of today.

The famous Chateau Frontenac, a Fairmont hotel property, sits high above the city.
The famous Chateau Frontenac, a Fairmont hotel property, sits high above the city.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or call (888) 431-1010.

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Michigan Library Features History of Cooking

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During my senior year of college, I lived across the street from the William L. Clements Library on South University Avenue at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Little did I know then that my career work evaluating art, antiques, and collectibles would bring me back there to survey their fine yet unusual collection of cook books and materials relating to the history of the American culinary arts.

The Janice Longone Culinary Archive housed at the Clements Library at UM is broad in scope. It focuses on “everything that influenced and influences America and everything that America influenced and influences in culinary matters.” That is a tall order for any collection. The material on deposit at UM highlights various areas of culinary history and American domestic and commercial life from the late 1700s to the early 1900s.  While antique and vintage cookbooks make up the crux of the collection, there are also diaries, letters from chefs, catalogues, menus (like those used by celebrities of the day), advertisements, maps (relating to the spice trade routes and other materials), and manuscripts about food and food service.

The archive is the result of a lifetime of collecting by Janice and Daniel Longone who donated the collection to the university. Some of the objects in the collection include titles that would spark interest and intrigue with even the most inexperienced foodies. For instance, the collection includes cookbooks dating back to the 18th Century and objects that discuss the history of maize in Native American society. There is a pamphlet cookbook from the model kitchen erected at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893 entitled “Recipes used in Illinois Corn Exhibit…” by Sara T. Rorer. Mrs. Rorer was an entrepreneur, the founder of the Philadelphia Cooking School, an author, and editor of the Ladies Home Journal.

Other interesting hand written recipes in the library archive date back to the 1770s. There are prints of high style restaurants from the roaring 20s and a 1796 publication called American Cookery by Amelia Simmons. Simmons was an orphan who focused on the dressing of meats and the making of cakes in her groundbreaking book.

The Longone collection includes an unexpected object or two such as printed materials that discuss the connection between political satirical cartoons and culinary colloquialisms like “Going Whole Hog.” Other points of interest that may be gleaned from the books and documents in the collection are texts that discuss running a household, staying on budget, and butchering meat at home.  All this talk about food is making me hungry.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antique appraisal events nationwide. Visit http://www.DrLoriV.com, www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori or call (888) 431-1010.       

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Travel, Shop, Eat

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by Dr. Lori

Columbia, South Carolina

A trip to Columbia, South Carolina would not be complete without taking in the sites in and around the University of South Carolina. A major force in the SEC football conference, USC is located in South Carolina’s bustling state capital.

Columbia is home to a world-class university that attracts big name events and speakers, great dining options, and residents who share true southern hospitality with visitors.

I visited Columbia to present my Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show at the Columbia Convention Center. My tour stops at 150 sites every year and on this my first visit to Columbia i got a taste of the south at a few choice restaurants and, as expected in this college town, bars.

I had a craft beer featuring wheat with raspberries at a downtown bar called the Flying Saucer. It was a pretty cool place and an obvious undergraduate hangout. I liked the decorative china plates that lined the walls of the place. The printed and glazed transfer ware plates, hand painted saucers, tin beer trays, and decorated chargers adorned the walls in keeping with the name of the joint. Sandwiches were reasonably priced and filling. A turkey melt was served on ciabatta bread with honey mustard dressing and a side of French fries. Beer mugs overflowed and the atmosphere was fun-filled and meant for the 20-something set however, the place was not too loud or wild for a college bar.

For a late lunch or casual dinner after the football game with the family, I suggest the Liberty tavern. Entrees such as meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and fish & chips were Gamecock fan favorites according to our waiter, Conner, a surfer saving his tips to move to California after college.

The food and service were good. I chose a cup of she-crab soup which featured a good amount of crabmeat in a creamy broth with some veggies. For my main course, I had the Blue Ribbon chicken salad (a Liberty mainstay) which offered a generous portion of lettuce, ham, fried chicken, red onions, and tomatoes in a spicy dressing. I passed on their famous banana foster cheesecake even though our waiter Conner reported that one patron drives four hours every week to indulge in the rich dessert. With the price of gas, it must be worth it.

If you find yourself in Columbia, SC, don’t miss the football games, USC spirit, capital city’s history, or the fine food and drink. This southern city is great for a quick trip as it is long on  charm. 

Boutique Hotels: Antiques for Travelers

Antiques enthusiasts and discriminating travelers are making tracks to the growing number of boutique hotels opening up across North America. From trendy and tasteful to intimate and impressive, boutique hotels pride themselves on offering luxurious accommodations, superior service, and convenient yet historic locations. Often times located in the heart of the historic districts of major cities, boutique hotels have interesting architectural facades, prestigious histories, themed lobby interiors, meticulously appointed suites and restaurants decorated with fine art, antiques, and collectibles related to the region. More and more, these hotels are becoming showplaces for antiques and period art work attracting lots of visitors.

Smaller than most conventional hotels, boutique hotels have made a significant impact in the hospitality industry since the 1990s. While some remind visitors of historic homes or scaled- down mansion museums, many boutique hotels from Los Angeles to Boston are furnished in a manner consistent with the hotel’s architecture. Boutique hotels like Nashville’s Hotel Preston, The James in Chicago, and Fifteen Beacon in Boston are some examples where art, history, design, and hospitality  merge.

The famous Don Vicente Inn is a quintessential boutique hotel loaded with art and antiques which is located in Ybor City, near Tampa, Florida. Ybor City was the largest cigar manufacturing center by the early 1900s. Ybor City’s immigrant population consisted of Spanish, Italian, and Cuban workers who produced cigars in some of the city’s 140 factories. 
Named for the city’s founder Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, the Don Vicente Inn was constructed in 1895 and has been lovingly restored. The Inn’s distinctively classical flair and tropical feel is evident from its bright white/pink stucco façade and Spanish inspired balconies. The late 19th Century converted gas chandeliers, Victoriana furnishings complete with Tiffany lamps, coiffered ceilings, and detailed wood paneling are only some of the southern European-inspired aspects that accessorize the Don Vicente Inn’s lobby.

The renewed interest in the objects associated with the Spanish revival is apparent in the world of art and antiques collecting. Many people collect objects of a particular region close to home or from a beloved, far-off travel locale. For snow birds visiting sunny Florida or homebodies living in the Sunshine state, objects from sights as diverse as Orlando’s Disney World or Tampa’s cigar making center or Sarasota’s circus stronghold are superb collectibles locales with strength in the secondary antiques market.

With art and antiques in your dreams, a boutique hotel may be just the place to rest your head. These superb hotels attract visitors with artistic amenities such as four poster beds, and other period furnishings that keep art and antiques lovers coming back. No matter where you visit, boutique hotels remain true to an area’s flair for the historic and demonstrate a love for a region’s special art and antiques. 

Boutique
The lobby of the Don Vicente Inn features baroque-inspired art work, Victorian furniture situated for socializing, and other classical antique accessories with a decidedly Spanish feel in the heart historic Ybor City, near Tampa, FL.

Ph.D. Antiques Appraiser and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents antiques appraisal events worldwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com,  www.Facebook.com/DoctorLori, or call (888) 431-1010. 

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Souvenir Shopping in the Former Soviet Union

A college roommate of mine sparked the idea for this column. She and her husband adopted two girls from the former Soviet Union a few years ago and now they are planning a trip back to the region. My friend asked me to advise her on what collectibles would be of interest for enjoyment as well as investment while they toured the former Soviet Union.

Matroyska dolls were available for sale outside of the Cathedral of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia (Photo credit: Staff of http://www.DrLoriV.com)

My advice is to look for souvenirs—no matter where you are traveling in the world– that unite old world history and culture. The objects that relate to history and reflect the unique qualities of a place are the ones to collect. Here are some shopping tips as you embark upon the trip of a lifetime.

Tallinn, Estonia

One thing that you don’t have to spend money on in Tallinn, Estonia is Internet access. Tallinn, Estonia is a totally wired city where you can utilize free wi-fi anywhere in the city. Tallinn remains ahead of the curve when it comes to offering technological advancements to the masses. As supreme skyscrapers dot the downtown urban landscape, this city has a traditional feel and warm residents. The decidedly urban feel of Tallinn is juxtaposed by an old style town section dominated by antiques stores, handicraft shops, and specialty food cafes. In this once Soviet-occupied city, you can pay for parking with your cell phone and never worry about being out of touch. If you are searching for that great collectible, consider antique and vintage technology items like phones, communication devices, and music players.

St. Petersburg, Russia

When in the historic city of St. Petersburg established on the Neva River by Czar Peter the Great in 1703, there are a few must see sites and must have souvenirs. The must see sites include Catherine the Great’s Hermitage (now a world class art and antiques collection is housed there) and Peter the Great’s famous mansion and country estate called Peterhof.
For the tourist/shopper, buying a matroyska or traditional hand-made Russian nesting doll is a must. The world famous hand-painted nesting dolls are arguably the most popular souvenirs from the historic city of St. Petersburg. Review each painted doll individually, ensure that the dolls fit comfortable inside one another, and look for detailed painting and preferably images of city views. Look for good control by the artist as evinced by the painted brushwork. Make sure your doll is signed by the artist on the underside, too.

Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.facebook.com/doctorlori or call (888) 431-1010.

St. Petersburg: City on the River

One of the world’s most fabulous cities is the Russian river: city of St. Petersburg. Established in the early 1700s by Czar Peter the Great, the city on the Neva river is a tribute to the rise of the Russian empire and the impact of the Russian Imperial family.

Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum along the banks of the Neva River.

The Neva river is a major characteristic of this beautiful city which boasts the Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Hermitage museum. The river runs by some of the major monuments to the empire such as Czar Alexander’s column, Catherine the Great’s equestrian statue, and Peter the Great’s first cabin home. Peter the Great was an advocate of museums that documented the history of the empire and was interested in the pursuit of art and native crafts.

Today, sites along the Neva river are revered as residents and tourists alike pose for keepsake photographs. Newlywed couples are encouraged to stroke the toes of the mighty carved Atlas figures at the Hermitage museum to bring about good luck.

Czar Peter the Great and Czarina Catherine I wanted residents of St. Petersburg to use boats to travel around the city to highlight the beauty of the river. He was opposed to the building of bridges within the city limits. However, the need for some bridges could not be overlooked and some draw bridges with towers were constructed in the early 1700s to keep out foreigners. Also, there were restrictions about the architecture of the city as it was mandated that the height of civic buildings in St. Petersburg could not be higher than the dome of St. Isaac’s cathedral, the third largest dome in the world after St. Peter’s in Vatican City and St. Paul’s in London.

Peter the Great would have been impressed with one of the most interesting aspects of the city which addresses the importance of the Neva river in the 20th Century, that is the famed St. Petersburg metro or subway system.

The first plans to build a metro in St. Petersburg were drawn up in 1889. These plans were not implemented because of the outbreak of World War I. Shortly thereafter, the plans were put on hold because of the Revolution of 1917. Decades later, in 1941, construction began on what was then called the Leningrad metro. Of course, progress was soon halted as the Soviet Union entered World War II.

Finally, the construction resumed on the Metro after World War II and the first metro line was opened in November 15, 1955. The St. Petersburg metro is the deepest subway system in the world with some stations located more than 330 feet below the surface.

The St. Petersburg metro system is hailed as one of the world’s best metros for its cleanliness, efficiency, and ornate art and architecture. The first subway pavilions or stations, circa 1955, were designed in a modernist style with classical arches and clean lines referred to as “Stalin gothic”.

The city that Peter the Great called his own has developed into the 21st Century with grace and vigor. With its historic buildings and contemporary flair, St. Petersburg is surely a treasure to behold.

PhD antiques appraiser, author, award-winning TV personality and TV talk show host, Dr. Lori presents antiques appraisal events nationwide. Visit www.DrLoriV.com, www.facebook.com/doctorlori or call (888) 431-1010.

Great Stories Accompany Great Antiques

Many people attend my appraisal events with family heirlooms or flea market finds but there are some audience members that just like to watch the show. While my appraisal style is unlike anything you’ve seen in the antiques world, my audience likes to hear about history and partake in my rapid fire, informative, funny, and totally unscripted events.

Here are some of the stories that I recall from the latest round of touring the country presenting Dr. Lori’s Antiques Appraisal Comedy Show. Some objects are worth big bucks and other objects have big stories to tell. From locales far and wide, these are America’s stories. Read on.

Estero, FL: a woman named Beverly brought in a $6,000 sterling silver gravy boat made by the esteemed designer Georg Jensen. She said she didn’t care much for her mother in law who gave it to her, but she sure liked her gravy.

Denver, CO: a guy named Jeff who said he’d rather eat mud than go to a yard sale bought an 1850s era quilt from a yard sale for $20 and brought it to me for an evaluation. It was an Amish-made Rose of Sharon pattern textile worth $8,500.

Seattle, WA: a waiter named Kelly served a big table of diners and did not receive a tip. Instead, the diners left a small bag on the table with a Native American turquoise and silver squash blossom necklace. After a month of waiting for the owners to return to the restaurant to pick up the necklace, the owner told Kelly that the necklace was his tip. It was worth $5,000.

Tulsa, OK: I was rendered speechless–a first for me–when I saw an amazing Albrecht Durer print among the objects for me to appraise. I got very, very quiet when I realized that an audience member had brought in an authentic Durer work of art dating to the 1500s. It was a magnificent piece of Renaissance art produced by the artist best known as the “German Leonardo.” The lovely owner told me that it was a gift from her deceased friend who collected old master prints. And, a masterpiece it was–worth $60,000-$75,000.

Portland, OR: While cleaning out her aunt’s house, Cathy discovered a Walt Disney animation cel from the 1940s. Appraised value: $9,000.

St. Louis, MO: Seven year old Corinne wanted me to appraise her cell phone to see if her mother loved her or her nine year old sister more…  Truth be told, they both had a better cell phone than I did.

Mt. Carmel, PA: A woman showed me her circa 1920s platinum, diamond, and sapphire ring that was an anniversary gift from her husband. She said that her husband got it from “Blackie at the pool hall.” That Art Deco piece of pool hall jewelry was worth $25,000.

Washington, DC: A gentleman who made it clear that he was not a tea drinker brought me an 18th Century French-made sterling silver samovar produced for the Russian court of Catherine the Great. It was worth $15,000.

State College, PA: A gentleman in his 90s whose family had links to the Plimoth colony brought a teapot that came over on the Mayflower. With significant information and the documentation to prove it, the silver teapot was worth $150,000.

Houston, TX: A lawyer named Ray and his wife Robin were having a heated discussion over a beat-up upholstered chair that Ray bought at a yard sale. He wanted to try a new hobby, furniture re-upholstery, so he had stored the chair in their garage in anticipation of starting the project. Robin, fed up with the situation that left her car outside, told him to start the re-upholstery project or trash the chair. So, Ray started ripping off the old upholstery only to find two pieces of cardboard inside the back of the chair with a work of art sandwiched in between them. The work of art was brought to me for evaluation. It was a French Impressionist drawing by Edgar Degas depicting ballet dancers worth $100,000.

Bloomsburg, PA: I will never forget the man who yelled at me when I told him that his glass Ball canning jar was not rare. It was marked 1858 on the side. The owner believed it was the first one ever made—it wasn’t! Value: $8.

Seattle, WA: Mai Lin brought me a French Impressionist watercolor by the artist, Eugene Boudin that her father got in payment of a debt. He ran a dry goods shop in Hong Kong during World War II. The watercolor was left to him in exchange for a payment. The piece was valued at $17,500—there aren’t enough dry goods on earth to make that a fair deal.

Hazelton, PA: A couple in their 80s brought an American Impressionist landscape painting to one of my events. While waiting for the event to begin, they were approached by two young men who offered to buy the painting from them on the spot. They offered the couple $8,000 for the painting and urged them not to have me appraise it. They rejected the offer. I appraised it and it was worth $100,000. Sometimes you don’t want to take the first offer you hear.

Tulsa, OK: As a Connecticut native, I couldn’t resist wearing–with the owner’s permission–a real western sheriff’s badge. A woman brought in a US Marshal’s gold sheriff’s badge from the Oklahoma territory, circa 1906-07. It was worth $1,000. It’s not too often that you see one of those in New Haven!

Trenton, NJ: I coaxed a guy named Dan into wearing the strand of pearls that he bought at a Goodwill Thrift Store for $15 and brought in for an appraisal. When I explained that he had a purchased an opera length strand of hand knotted 6 millimeter Mikkimoto cultured pearls dating back to the 1950s worth $2,500 bucks, he ran up to my stage to model them for the audience.

Roanoke, VA: I told a nice guy who just wanted to keep an old crock that sat at the top of his grandmother’s staircase that some sentimental objects are worth cash. While he acquired the oversized crock from his late grandmother for sentimental reasons, he soon  found out that it was the perfect size for putting his beer on ice. The early 1900s crock featured a cobalt blue flower on the side. The owner nearly fell off my stage when I told him that it was worth $5,000. He said that he was heading home to break the news to his football buddies that they need to chip in for a new beer cooler.

Hazelton, PA: Nick, a regular at my appraisal events, brought an American flag for me to appraise. His flag showing the dates 1776/1876 had been in his family for years and was flown over the streets of Philly during the 1876 World’s Fair (Centennial Expo) parade. Today, that handmade flag is worth $20,000. Nick’s flag was not only old but glorious, too.

Lancaster, PA: Five-year old Carlie brought me a Lewis and Clark peace medal like those that the Jefferson administration gave to the Native Americans as Lewis and Clark explored the western territories. It was discovered when she was sifting through her grandfather’s button jar. It was worth $5,000.

Knoxville, TN: A woman purchased a box lot that included a metal badge from the early 1800s. Engraved on the badge was a statement that read: “Coachman is allowed in the city of Charleston, SC at any hour with the coach.” This was an unusual object even for this city which was known to be at the center of the slave trade. It was worth $400.

Akron, OH: An 80 year old woman was accompanied by her adult daughter and one of the family’s many Currier & Ives prints. The daughter wanted me to tell her mother to stop letting perfect strangers into the house where she lives alone to see her prints. Mom promised to stop the dangerous practice after I appraised just one of the original 19th Century American prints for $18,000.

Kansas City, MO: A woman named Joan purchased an ugly drawing of an eagle with a Picasso signature on it that she thought was a print at an estate sale for $2.50. It wasn’t a print but rather an original Picasso drawing worth $50,000.

Baltimore, MD: A US Airways flight attendant brought an old radio with Disney characters (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) on it from the 1940s in fair condition. Another one just like it had sold for $11,500 in excellent condition. I told Laura that her Disney collectible is worth $5,000-$6,500.

Anderson, SC: A first edition, signed copy of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell with the original book jacket was purchased by Bob at a book fair about 10 years ago. When he brought it to me for an appraisal, I told him that he made a good return on his $200 investment. That book is worth $50,000.

Louisville, KY: A 30-something guy named Paul was supported his grandmother and his extended family when grandma’s house went into foreclosure. He took the weathervane off of the barn on the property that was in deep financial trouble and brought it to me. The copper weathervane was worth $15,000 and would help get the family back on their feet again.

Indianapolis, IN: A newlywed couple brought in a Gibson banjo that was found in the attic of the new house they purchased from their grandfather. Disappointed that the instrument wasn’t a guitar, I explained that banjos were actually more popular than guitars in the early 1900s. The banjo by the famous maker was worth $1,500 which was just enough to fund their honeymoon.

Ft. Myers, FL: A woman paid $1 at a yard sale for a drawing by the court artist to Louis XV, Francoise Boucher of an angel. Betty brought it to my appraisal event in southwest Florida and I told her it was authentic and worth $40,000.

Akron, OH: A very smelly old sock monkey was purchased at an estate sale. If you can smell it, you can’t sell it. Value:  Smelly!

Lubbock, TX: A collection of rare autographs from the 1930s-50s owned by a man named William that were collected by a policeman who worked near the Polo Grounds in New York. The officer would just leave a blank autograph book near the locker room exit and when the New York Yankee players and members of the opposing team left the ball field, they would be asked to sign the book. Value of the hundreds of autographs by the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto and others was $5,000.

Glastonbury, CT: An original campaign button from George Washington’s campaign in the form of a car coat button. The piece was dug up from the ground while its owner was doing some light gardening. He dug up an object from the Revolutionary war period worth $2,200.

Omaha, NE: A gentleman had an early 1800s good luck charm that had a provenance linking it to Napoleon Bonaparte. It was a jewel encrusted object in the form of a crystal sphinx that was like the one painted in a portrait of the French Emperor. The owner, a golf pro, got the object on a trade for a set of golf clubs.
Virginia Beach, VA: A few members of one military family struggle to bring their object to my event. It takes three big guys to lift it. Why? Because the object they want me to appraise is a giant piece covered in graffiti of the Berlin Wall…

I can safely say at a rate of 20,000 objects a year for nearly two decades appraising people’s stuff, I have seen it all. The stories are just as fabulous and the people and the objects that accompany them.