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Antiques Appraiser Deals in Truth

James Steven Lipton is an art and antiques appraiser who, for more than 35 years, has been "solving problems" and helping his clients with appraisals as well as with finding items they never knew were valuable.

Sometimes Lipton has made his discoveries in attics or in basements, but more often, they are in plain sight.

"I am a good 'finder' and like to work through a process of figuring out what something is," the Eastonite said as he held up a painting of a young boy. Lipton is trying to determine whether it is a previously undiscovered study by John George Brown, an important American artist.

In the eaves of one house, he found a large painting in poor condition that the family thought was of no value. Lipton recognized it as a fine example of the work of 19th-century American master A.T. Bricher.

Similarly, Lipton recently found an important 19th-century French bronze work in a stable. The massive object had been painted as if it were a lawn jockey. He valued it at $100,000 to $150,000.

He said it is easy for someone to have the wrong idea about a piece. A small, narrow and dull bronze figure of an Asian deity sitting on a client's piano had been in two important collections earlier in the 20th century. Now, given its origin and rarity, it is expected to bring in six figures.

"There is too much for one person to know so I am fortunate to have built great relationships over the years," he said.

Lipton, a percussionist and singer with the Weston-based Good News Gospel Choir with his wife and son, grew up in a house filled with paintings and Tiffany glass. As to becoming an appraiser, "I was able to develop an 'eye' and ... having a good memory is essential."

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