Musical merchant offers ‘Antiques Roadshow’ appraisals

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Looking for something different to do on a Saturday morning? How about getting a free Antiques Roadshow-style appraisal of that 18th century antique chest you got from Aunt Jane's estate or the set of sterling silver dinnerware you inherited from grandma that you're never going to polish or use or the early blown glass that came from uncle Charlie in New Jersey?

These questions were posed recently by Joe B., of Ambler, on yelp.com, who went on to say he “was thrilled to find out an oil painting I bought years ago had appreciated in value. I was even more excited when I got my check in the mail following the sale.”

Joe took the oil painting to Locati Antiques, 1425 E. Welsh Rd. in Maple Glen (the historic 1815 Lukens Manor property), which specializes in fine antiques and art from the 19th century and earlier, furniture, fine art, American and Continental silver, Chinese and Japanese art, fine porcelain, estate jewelry, early glass, coins, mid-century modern and Americana. Locati opened the business as a small shop in 2001, with the online operation following in 2004.

According to Joe B., “First and foremost, Michael Locati is both a knowledgeable and completely trustworthy person. He offers free walk-in verbal appraisals of art, antiques, estate jewelry and precious metals every Saturday morning.”

Linda P., of Ambler, another yelp.com contributor, wrote, “Michael and his wife are great, so knowledgeable and helpful. They are trustworthy and reliable. They do free estimates, too! Since I live so close, I find the preview beneficial in checking out each piece before I bid ... Best thing to happen to our area in a long time!”

Owner Michael Locati, 52, who grew up in Fresno, California, but has lived in this area for 20 years, explained, “My dad was an antiques collector, and my mother is a well-known artist in my home town, so aesthetics were always important in our family. When I met Melissa (his wife) I knew that I wanted a family, and both the schedule of a working musician and the limited income led me to antiques. By the way, Melissa is a huge part of the business. We would never have made it without her incredible work over the years … My older brother also dabbles in antiques in California” 

In addition to his antiques business, Michael is a talented violinist who earned an undergraduate degree and a Master’s degree in music (violin performance) from Rutgers University with a full scholarship under Arnold Steinhardt of the famed Guarneri quartet. “I started violin at the age of 5, and it was the only thing I thought I would ever do,” said Michael, who also put on monthly concerts at Christ Ascension Lutheran Church, 8300 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, until the pandemic hit. He has started  an annual Bach concert at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Elkins Park that usually sold out each year before the pandemic.

What has been the effect of the enormously popular Antiques Roadshow program on public TV on the antiques business? “The Roadshow has created interest in antiques, but I regret that so much of it revolves around the punch line of value, and antiques are more than just money,” said Locati. 

“Our business is about helping people downsize, and with estates, just about everyone needs this help at some point. We see ourselves as advocates for our clients, and we enjoy helping them. The worst part is breaking the news to people that the value of their items has plummeted over the last 20 years. People have a hard time determining value, and the internet can be very confusing, so part of our job is giving objective clarity.”

Michael and Melissa, who live in Maple Glen, have a son, Gabriel, a freshman at Temple University as the first and only classical mandolin major; a 16-year-old son who wants to be a chef and worked at Mica in Chestnut Hill (weekends) until the pandemic, and 13-year-old daughter and middle school student.

The Locatis have free Saturday morning appraisals from 10 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 215-619-2873 or visit www.locatillc.com. To find out when Christ Ascension Church will resume its concerts, visit www.firstfridayconcerts.org

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