Historical value

What's your attic treasure worth? We asked the experts at Chesapeake Collectibles to name a price.

May 26, 2011|By Donna M. Owens, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Do those pewter candlesticks your grandmother left you date to the Civil War? Could the French armoire you nabbed cheap at the flea market be worth big bucks?

If the history and mystery of antique furniture, art and such fill you with giddy delight and eBay dreams — you're not alone.

Viewers across Maryland are tuning into "Chesapeake Collectibles," the new Maryland Public Television series that spotlights antiques and the often fascinating stories behind them.

"Antiques are plentiful in Maryland because of the state's Colonial history," says Ken Day, the show's executive producer. "We're delighted to do a show that's very rich in cultural history. You'll see a lot of wonderful things that tell the story of Maryland."

The series, inspired by PBS' "Antiques Roadshow" yet possessing a distinct local flair, launched in January. It's hosted by Rhea Feikin, aided by "MotorWeek" host John Davis.

A "ratings success," according to Day, the show will tape 13 half-hour episodes this summer that are slated to begin airing in January 2012.

In early June, about 1,200 viewers toting their treasures will descend upon MPT's studios in Owings Mills for a taping. The two-day event, by invitation only, will feature nationally renowned appraisers.

"Several of our experts will come from Maryland," says Day, noting that the team will whisk away some guests who will then have an on-air appraisal. "It's fun. They'll get the chance to show off treasures from the attic or that special [family] heirloom."

Earlier this year, The Baltimore Sun asked readers to submit their prized items for evaluation by the experts of "Chesapeake Collectibles." We received hundreds of photos of jewelry, furniture, books, guns, paintings and more. We turned some of them over to the appraisers, and here's what they found.

Walt Disney film cels

Owner: Dale Castro, Columbia

Back story: Castro spends his days educating youths as an assistant high school principal. But during his free time, he takes part in the family hobby — collecting. "My mom is 82, and she's a longtime collector," he explains. "She has a barn that's like a museum." Castro's grandfather was a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Cabinet. The family was also friends with other high-profile types, including Orson Wells and Walt Disney.

"Mr. Disney gave my grandmother the cels with Donald Duck as a gift," says Castro. Another gift, a bust of FDR, was "personally inscribed by [the president] to my grandfather."

Expert: G. Amory LeCuyer, certified appraiser, Hampton House Auctions (hamptonhouseauctions.com)

Overview: "The collecting of movie cels has been active ever since the first ones were produced. There have been numerous pieces produced and in some cases reproduced. The distinction of the Walt Disney cel shown is that it has been signed by Walt Disney. Additional value comes from the popularity of the image of Donald Duck."

Evaluation: "While in most cases an item like this would need to have the signature authenticated before sale, the prices on similar cels at auction have ranged from $4,500 to $5,000."

Cast-iron motorcycle

Owner: Nancy Artley, Ivy Hall/Kenilworth

Back story: "My husband was a collector. He loved Lionel trains and iron toys," says Artley, 87. The toy motorcycle, complete with "little headlights," has been in her husband's family for many years, she says. "I know that my father-in-law rode a motorcycle around 1915, and my husband rode one in the '20s." Artley, a county government retiree who shares photos via email and enjoys shopping on eBay, has two sons and a grandson. "I'm sure I will pass this down to him one day."

Expert: Michael Stanton, head of vintage toys, Hampton House

Overview: "The cast-iron motorcycle is by Champion Toy. The size appears to be either the 5- or 6-inch version. The popularity of original cast-iron toys remains strong. The value of this example of the motorcycle policeman is affected by the condition of the paint. Original paint is always the most desirable, and the item should not be repainted except by a professional."

Evaluation: "Between $175 and $250."

17th- or 18th-century profile painting

Owner: Dr. Mark and Melissa Dulin, Ellicott City

Back story: A veterinarian and former Foreign Service member, Dr. Dulin and his family spent years living abroad, including seven years in Belgium. It was early in the morning when he visited a flea market in Brussels, a favorite pastime, and stumbled across this painting of a man's bearded profile.

"It was in good condition but was not signed or dated," he said. The painting has a place of honor at the Dulin home, along with other artwork. He remains intrigued. "I'm hoping they'll tell me the history. I thought it might be one of the Dutch masters or one of their students."

Expert: G. Amory LeCuyer, certified appraiser, Hampton House

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