Elyse Luray - Interview

Little-known facts about the history detective with a passion for popular culture.


What do you like most about being a History Detective?
Traveling, meeting people and the continued learning.

What do you like least about being a History Detective?
Unplanned travel and the hectic schedule.

What advice would you give someone interested in the field of historical research?
If you love history, it is the perfect job but try and narrow your interest to a certain time period. It can get overwhelming. Also, its always good to be an expert/specialist in one area. You are more desirable in the market place.

What is the thing you do most in this job?
We all probably spend the most time searching through archives but for me personally, its working with the objects. I spent a lot time making sure they are authentic and finding comparables in the market.

How do you approach a mystery? What's the first thing you do?
Since I am an appraiser, the very first thing I do is look at the object. I look to see if its period to the time the person says it is and do a general appraise it.

What areas would you describe as your speciality?
Pop culture. I worked in the Collectibles Department at Christies for 10 years. I love memorabilia and am always fascinated with the influence that media has on our lives. I am still actively involved in the field. Also, I helped start the Western Americana, Arms and Armour and Native American Art. I love anything related to the old west.

Is there a puzzle or mystery you dream of solving?
In light of all that the Ancient Egyptians have told us in countless text and paintings about their civilization, they left such gaping holes of how the pyramids were constructed, or how obelisks were raised and the process of mummification. Some believe it was considered so sacred that it was only past on verbally to those considered worthy of the facts. I would love to meet the scientist and architects of this time and talk to them about how they were so advanced?

If you could leave a time capsule now to be opened in 2104, what would you put in it?
Most likely I would put books on art history and pop culture. I thinks its very important to look at the past, we can learn a lot from it.

Where's the most interesting place you've traveled to as a History Detective?
I have loved everywhere I traveled and find all of America and its personal history interesting.

What do you never leave home without?
My appraising kit. It's a loupe, a measuring tape, cell phone, palm pilot, paper, pens (and of course my powder for close ups!).