class to be taught
by store owner, noted authority
Helen E. McKinney
NEW CASTLE, Ky. (March 2005) R.E. Wells has
an eye for antiques so much so, that he travels throughout
the year to approximately 27 counties to share his passion about antiques.
Wells helps a participant
decide what an item is worth.
His antique classes are offered through county extension
offices throughout Kentucky. Participants can learn about a myriad of
subjects relating to antiquity: glassware, furniture, paintings, china
and silver. Wells said his goal is to teach participants to recognize
the real from the reproduction.
Wells brings 28 years of knowledge to the classroom. Beginning March
7, the eight-week class will run until April 25. Classes will be held
at the new Shelby County Extension Office on Hwy. 60 in Shelby County.
The classes are so popular that two sessions are held: a daytime session
from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and an evening session on the same day
from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Maryellen Garrison, Henry County Agricultural Extension Agent, said
she thought these classes would be a nice educational offering.
The Extensions district for this area includes the counties of
Jefferson, Bullitt, Spencer, Shelby, Oldham, Trimble and Henry.
Wells said he attended a seminar in Kentucky 31 years ago at Shakertown,
while employed by one of the three museums for which he has worked.
After visiting the Bluegrass in the spring of the year, Wells said,
I fell in love with Kentucky.
He went home, quit his job and moved to Kentucky permanently. Wells
was born in Florida, grew up in Ohio and attended school in Europe.
He has operated an antique business for the last 36 years in Kentucky.
Wells owns the Curio Cabinet at 137 Frankfort St., Versailles, Ky. It
is housed in one of the oldest antique shops in the county. The previous
business had been in the same building since 1921. Wells began his business
there 21 years ago.
What began as a hobby to annoy his mother, who hated antiques, has grown
from 40 different collections to 110, he said. Wells collection
runs the gamut of variety. He takes an interest in paintings, clocks,
cut glass and dolls by Kentucky artists.
When he realized he could turn his love of antiques into a viable business,
Wells remembered his grandmothers admonition: You only get
paid for a job you dont like. Wells proved her wrong. He
has a doctorate in art history and a lesser degree in fine art.
Wells is so busy teaching throughout the springtime that his store hours
vary with the seasons. After March, he can only be found in his shop
from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. During the weekdays,
he advises customers to call for an appointment.
He has also had a lot of experience as an insurance appraiser for individuals.
By having his own business, he can keep up with current markets trends
and their value.
Most people take his class because they want to know what theyve
got, he said. I cover a vivid array of things.
Saundra Smith is a Henry County resident who has attended Wells
classes. She said, Sometimes family treasures are not valuable
(monetarily) but are more of a sentimental piece. Dr. Wells is a wealth
Usually, an item is considered an antique if it is 100 years or older.
But even if its not an antique, it can have value, said Smith.
She cited Barbie dolls as an example of something she thought was merely
a collectors item of little value, but she learned from Wells
class that these items can also be of monetary value. A series of dolls
that were not widely distributed can have a real value attached to them.
If participants go out antiquing after one of his classes, he has given
them the ability to identify fake items from the real thing. They can
go out and look for the items and have a better understanding of the
items value and historical context.
Wells informs participants of the history of the items he discusses
in class, said Jefferson County, Ky., Extension Agent Valerie Holland.
This makes for an exciting, informative class and incorporates an explanation
of why some items are made the way they were made, said Holland.
Many of the participants sell antiques, said Holland. Through Wells
classes, they learn more about what they sell. These classes are so
popular that Holland said the most frequently asked question she gets
is, When is the next class?
She learned about Wells from the Nelson County Extension Agent and contacted
him to teach classes through the extension office. He has quite
a following, said Holland.
Many people inherit items and dont know their history, said Wells.
Items were made for certain reasons, at different time periods and embellished
with particular designs and decorations for a specific reason.
The antiques class will conclude April 5 with an Antiques Road Show.
This class is based on the popular KET Antiques Road Show series. It
is only open to class participants, who can bring in four items to be
appraised and discussed.
There is a fee for this class and participants
must pre-register. For more information contact Garrison at (502) 845-2811,
Holland at (502) 569-2344 or Wells at (859) 873-4638.
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