Putting a price on heirlooms Appraisal: The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society will provide values for items that owners believe are antiques and will then hold an auction.

March 19, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

If it's rusty, dusty and came from Grandma's, it just might be an antique and this weekend you can find out what it's worth.

The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society is gathering appraisers and auctioneers at the Captain Salem Avery House waterman's museum at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow to price anything old -- from Victorian-era sugar dishes to tin signs advertising 5-cent Coca-Cola.

In four years of the program at the museum, the original West River home of the 19th-century ship captain adorned with replicas of schooners and antique household items, the group has come across only a few rare finds. The program has also occasionally dashed the hopes of people who thought they held priceless items, said Beebe Castro, who runs the program.

One year, a man was afraid to put down his silver candleholders on the same table with the other items to be appraised because they were dated 1642. He needn't have worried. The candleholders were not sterling silver as he had thought, and the items spurred a discussion on replicas.

Another year a woman brought in two 14-inch ivory carvings that "blew us away," Castro said. Of the half-dozen appraisers there, no one could tell her what they were worth.

But most often, locals have brought in tools, glasses, jewelry and anything "they feel is old and they just want to know the value of it," Castro said.

This year, Castro, former owner of Castro's collectibles, and auctioneers Judy Howard and Pam Parks of WhittMar Auctioneering will talk about auctions during the event.

Some people are leery about the fast-paced bargaining and bidding because "there's the old joke that if you scratch your head, you've bought a table," Castro said.

Howard said you never have to buy anything you didn't bid for. You can stop the auctioneer and make him start again.

Howard said many people, young and old, go antique hunting and sell their acquisitions at auctions for a second income or to supplement their fixed income, turning $150 in purchases into $1,500 on occasion.

To show how auctions work, they will hold a mock auction and make some audience members serve as auction clerks -- the people who listen to the ramblings of the auctioneer and record item lot numbers, bidders' numbers and the amount each item sells for. The best auction clerk will win a prize.

People who have brought in their collectibles for an appraisal can offer them up for bidding in the real auction to follow. Half of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rural Heritage Society, which owns and maintains the waterman's museum and sponsors history programs for the public.

A $5 admission includes coffee and desserts. For more information, call Peggy Tucker at (410) 867-2866.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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