More with Heather Semple, Antiques Appraiser




PM: I'm curious. Did PNC make any good acquisitions of art?
H.S.: The bank did purchase several paintings for specific projects in newer buildings. We always worked with local artists, galleries and attended auctions. We installed local historical photographs in branches such as Homestead and Sewickley. The expansion of the corporate collection came through acquisitions of banks that were acquired in various markets during the '90s. These collections reflected those regions' and cities' individual histories and tastes. For example, Philly had Revolutionary War-theme pieces. New Jersey had nautical themes; Louisville had equestrian-themed works, etc.

PM: If PBS' popular program "Antiques Roadshow" were to come to Pittsburgh again, what sort of art would you expect to turn up in the homes of ordinary Pittsburghers?
H.S.: You would see magnificent treasures of paintings, prints, antique guns, jewelry and quilts.

PM: What about the serious collectors?
H.S.: I'm always astounded at how great the art is in private collections here. The art at PNC is hard to categorize, but Mellon Bank collected British watercolors. I love the Tiffany lamps that Mr. Hardy [the founder of 84 Lumber] has collected. There are a lot of private collections here that are not necessarily publicized, that are acquired quietly. I'm also amazed at how well people care for their art.

PM: What do you have to think about when caring for art in your home?
H.S.: Where the art is hung, how it is installed, what kind of lighting is used. Is it exposed to the sun? Is it over a fountain or the fireplace? Can someone damage it?

PM: What do you think of "Antiques Roadshow," the way it portrays your business?
H.S.: I am the first one to watch "Antiques Roadshow" on Monday evenings and believe it has created an appreciation and awareness for items and art found in our everyday lives. However, it can be both a blessing and a curse. What viewers don't realize is that there is a tape delay on the show. In reality, the experts on that show aren't coming up with evaluations in one minute. They and probably a team of assistants are researching the pieces and coming back four hours later with a P.O.V., or professional opinion of value. What's important to realize is that this P.O.V. is not the same thing as an appraisal. A P.O.V. is less formal. It is not a legal document that can hold up in court based on a great deal of research. It shouldn't be relied upon for an insurance evaluation or for tax purposes. The wording used on the show can be misleading: "If this were to sell at auction, it may fetch...." Viewers are led to think they will realize a certain amount of sale when it is contingent on many aspects of the market. It is not always a sure thing, but it sounds so fantastic on TV. I do a lot of research in libraries and in reference books. It's like a treasure hunt. I just spent an hour and a half in the Carnegie Library trying to decipher a signature on an engraving.

PM: What do you think about the notion of art as a commodity?
H.S.: It is a great thing. I think of art as investment that's interesting. But it's not a game.

PM: Can art backfire as an investment?
H.S.: Yes, art can be a bad investment. You need to be diligent as a collector. Beware the ambience of the gallery. People buy without researching the comparables, whether the artist has been well-represented. There are a couple of galleries in New York that I dread because I can't substantiate the value of what some people have paid for their pieces. And neither can the gallery.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Comic Aaron Kleiber to Headline at the Pittsburgh Improv

Grab tickets now for next weekend's four-day run.
See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

See the Resume Tape That Landed Sally Wiggin in Pittsburgh

Wiggin is celebrating 35 years on Pittsburgh television.
14 Life-Changing Home Products for 2015

14 Life-Changing Home Products for 2015

Home expert Boyce Thompson previews this year's Duquesne Light Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show and speculates on which products will become fully integrated into our homes soon.
How Big a Salary Do You Need to Own a Home In Pittsburgh?

How Big a Salary Do You Need to Own a Home In Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh tops nationwide list for home affordability.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Todd Kreidler, who helped to conceive the Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright’s final written work, returns to Pittsburgh to direct that play, continuing his mission to keep the master’s words alive.
Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Lawrenceville hot spot Tender, once favored primarily for its libations, now is known as well for its culinary offerings.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module