Thrift store art purchase potentially worth hundreds of dollars

These etchings were bought at a Corridor thrift shop this summer for just a few dollars. Research has found that comparable pieces have sold for hundreds of dollars.

Fred Moren - known by many as "Pastor Fred" - is a man of God, but also a man of art.

He's particularly fond of four pieces he bought at a local thrift store over the summer - all from a series by the same French artist.

"When I saw them, I only saw one of them - leaning against the other three," he recalled on Monday. "I looked at it and I said to myself, 'That really stands out.' And it did look old. I looked at the frame. I said, 'I've never seen a frame like this before.'"

Fred ended up by the set of four for just a few dollars apiece. Then he started researching their history.

"The guy that did this artwork," Fred said, "he died in 1811."

Fred took the pieces to a few places around the area, including the Gilded Pear Gallery (808 Third Avenue Southeast) in Cedar Rapids.

"We did identify what the artist was - it was an etching from the 1790s - or approximately 1790 - so it was very old," Suzy McGrane-Hop, a certified appraiser at Gilded Pear said. "The price range was usually a few hundred dollars a piece. So for getting four of them for a few bucks, that's a pretty good return."

Fred says he won't be displaying the etchings now that he knows their potential worth; he'll be putting them in a safe deposit box in the near future.

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