For antiques appraiser Jerome Evans, a couple of trips to New Guinea twenty six years ago marked the beginning of his passionate journey into the world of collecting and dealing in Tribal Art, including American Indian, African and Oceanic Art. It “just got out of hand!” he fondly recalls while reminiscing about his early days as a collector. Eventually he opened a gallery in Sacramento for about ten years. Appraising just came naturally to Mr. Evans. He feels being involved in buying and selling helps one to know how to judge current market values. “I’ve met a lot of interesting people around this part of the Country who have family histories that go back to collecting objects in the early 1900’s.”
Highly regarded as an expert in his field, Mr. Evans has volunteered his services as an appraiser for a number of nonprofit museums in Northern California and Nevada, including the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Gatekeepers Museum in Tahoe City, and “a lot of others,” he modestly shares.
Some of the more unusual pieces Mr. Evans has handled include many very fine baskets by Washoe basket weavers, including Maggie James, Tootsie Dick and others. He is particularly passionate about basketry of all kinds. When asked what was one of his most interesting finds, Mr. Evans shared that he stumbled upon a family with a large Nampeyo pot. After purchasing and enjoying it for a while, he ultimately sold it, passing the rare piece along for others to enjoy. “Hopi Potter Nampeyo,” says Mr. Evans “is one of the greatest American potters of all times, dating back to the early part of the 20th Century. . . [the pot] was a thing of great beauty.”
When asked about his policy on appraising versus buying and selling, if Mr. Evans appraises a piece he feels it is unethical for him to purchase it. If the person wishes to sell the piece, he can, however help them find a buyer. If they wish to keep it in the family, he assists them with informal advise on proper care in order to maintain the piece’s value.
In recent years, Mr. Evans relocated from Sacramento to Tahoe where he has discovered several wonderful Washoe made baskets by Dat-So-La-Lee, whom he credits as the greatest basket weaver of all times. Since relocating to the Tahoe area, Mr. Evans has appraised baskets in the $100 to $700,000 price range.
Asked what advice he offers to collectors bringing items for appraisal at the Folsom History Museum’s upcoming Evaluation Day (Saturday, September 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.), Mr. Evans says he encourages them to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to get an appraisal at a relatively low cost from a qualified appraiser. While he prefers collectors bring their pieces for evaluation rather than bringing photographs, arrangements may be made for appraisers to come to collectors’ homes to evaluate pieces.
Jerome Evans may be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 530-541-3450.