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Antiques appraisal event comes to Ennis tomorrow
Ennis is poised for a unique event –– it’s own version of TV’s “Antiques Roadshow.”
The Ennis Arts Commission-sponsored program featuring Yale educated art connoisseur-turned-antiques appraiser David Gregory takes place tomorrow at the Ennis Public Library, and locals are invited to stop by to find out if there’s gold in “them there” family heirlooms, keepsakes and flea market finds.
The charge for each item to be appraised is only $5 (carry-in size only) with a limit of two per person. Area radio station 106.9 The Ranch will be on hand for a live broadcast of the Ennis appraisal show, entitled “Antiques on the Road with David Gregory.”
“It’s truly remarkable what’s out there,” said North Carolina-born Gregory who arrived in town yesterday to visit his sister, Sandra Wakefield –– and to help turn Ennis on to appreciating and preserving their antiques and collectibles. “There’s a big focus on history in Texas, and the collectors market is great here.”
He said valuable articles that often turn up in the Lone Star State range from Civil War letters and photos to old currency, Pony Express memorabilia, even Indian treaty documents.
He said he’s looking forward to meeting the Ennis community and seeing what goodies residents have found tucked away in their trunks and attics.
“The key is scholarship,” said Gregory of his expertise in identifying and evaluating antique art and decorative arts pieces, “Really studying the past is important.”
But the aficionado who has consulted and managed sales for leading auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s is as modest as he honest.
“I don’t think I’m an expert,” he admitted. “No one’s an expert. I can’t know the value of everything, and I will tell people when I don’t have an answer. But I will try and direct them to sources that might help them find out more about their possessions.”
Gregory said learning about history and studying antiques are his passion.
“All my life, at least from the time I could walk, I have been interested in the past,” he said. It wasn’t until age 11 that he began actively reading and about antiques but even as a toddler his future profession was evident.
“As a little boy I collected Indian arrowheads,” Gregory recalled. “I used to walk the shores of the Yadkin River with my dad, out in the fields and up in the mountains, looking for arrowheads and other Cherokee artifacts.”
An early inspiration in Gregory’s education was the classic tome “A Furniture Treasury” by Wallace Nutting, which the young man used to pore over to learn the sequence of styles and historical background of interior decoration. It introduced him to his love of antiques, and the author of the book was an amusing character Gregory said he enjoyed researching, too.
“Mr. Nutting used to visit bereaved widows,” he laughed. “The poor old ladies thought he was interested in them but really he was just checking out the legs of their settee!”
Since the Indian relics of his childhood, Gregory has helped preserve, exhibit and appraise many magnificent pieces from around the world ––paintings, objects d’art, furniture, china, silver, jewelry, clothing, rare books, manuscripts and letters.
“I specialize in furniture and painting,” he said. “I am totally at ease in those fields. I’m also very interested in old documents, silver, folk art and early Texas artifacts.”
One of Gregory’s most extensive appraisals was that of the Henry Ford Estate in Georgia, commissioned by the home’s current owners, members of Saudi Arabian royalty. One of the most valuable artifacts Gregory said he ever identified and valued was an astonishing Ming Dynasty jade scepter so rare museum curators were startled by its very existence.
Among items he recently showed the Ennis Daily News was a rare royal English seal from a document issued by Charles II in 1660. The seal, made of beeswax, was originally attached to a legal warning bound in red tape (from which the modern term derives).
“The king rarely did anything but play cards and drink,” Gregory said, “so that he bothered to order the document at all is amazing.”
Other possessions Gregory displayed for the EDN were a 17th century alms box and a matched pair of Colonial oil paintings depicting a husband and wife. These were once part of a great Virginia estate and date to 1785.
Though he’d been in the antiques business for some years, Gregory said it was only in 1981 that he decided to become an appraiser. It was a personal tragedy that determined him –– his house in Winston Salem was broken into and many valuable objects stolen. Sadly, he had not fully assessed his collection of paper ephemera and early photography so he wasn’t able to recoup the loss he sustained in the robbery. So to properly insure his possessions in future he enrolled in certification classes, becoming the first antiques appraiser in Winston Salem. Over the years he has hosted a number of roadshow-style events in his native North Carolina.
Now, thanks to the invitation of the Ennis Arts Commission, and the support of his sister, Gregory is bringing his popular gig to Texas for the first time.
He’s planning to expand his outreach following the Ennis show to include a tour of other small Texas towns where he hopes not only to help people understand their mementos and learn their value but to educate them on the significance of preserving history. This project is in embryo but will be called “On the Antiques Trail – Texas Style: Hosted by David Gregory.”
“People shouldn’t throw away the past,” Gregory said, adding that he especially wants to impress the importance of heritage and preservation on young children. As part of his upcoming Texas tour, he plans to develop programs geared toward kids that focus on family history and the history of Texas.
Gregory’s appearance at the Ennis Public Library, 501 W. Ennis Ave., is from 2-5 p.m. tomorrow. Private consultations, including walk-through home appraisals, can be booked by calling 972-875-4535. So many personal requests for Gregory’s advice have been received that he is extending his stay in Ennis beyond October 17.
Asked by the Ennis Daily News if he thought he was going to be overwhelmed by the public response, Gregory said, “I hope so!”

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Posted by on Sep 28 2007. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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