Local ‘Antiques Roadshow’ uncovers diamonds in the rough
December 6, 2011
By David Hayes
Linda Thompson has a basket her mom used to keep magazines in.
Joanne Scheele has a vase that was lucky to survive years of children playing roughhouse indoors.
Both sought expert opinions regarding the value of their family heirlooms at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center’s first local version of the “Antiques Roadshow” Dec. 2.
Jan Jarvis and Jeanne Klein, from Brown Tag Estate Sales, both longtime antique dealers, were also offering their opinions for the first time in such a venue.
“We are used to doing this kind of thing for estate sales,” Klein said.
For just $3 an item or $5 for a maximum of four items, residents were invited to bring anything to be evaluated.
Courtney Jaren, senior center executive director, said she was pleased by the turnout, however small it was.
“It’s a brand new event,” she said. “People take time to warm up to them. Plus we didn’t want to overwhelm Jan and Jeanne.”
Like the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow,” items are brought in for evaluation by experts. Unlike the show, where viewers get immediate feedback on value and history, items had to be left behind for the duo to quickly research via the Internet for whatever they could. They shared their findings at a revealing session a couple of hours later.
Klein said their main tool is searching eBay and Google for similar items.
“But you have to know what to search for, using specific words,” she added.
Some owners knew little of their items’ past, like Viola Ong, who brought in an intricately carved ivory snuff bottle.
“I only know that my dad brought this back from the Canton province of China,” she said.
Others had full stories to go with their knickknacks. For example, Scheele knew her mom, when living in Chicago in the 1920s, went with a neighbor friend to an old doctor’s estate sale down the street.
“My mother fell in love with this set of vases,” she said. “So, she bought one and her friend bought the other for $25 for each.”
The vase has been in her family ever since, surviving generations of children throwing balls indoors and general roughhousing. She keeps it now in a safe place on a shelf in her entry.
Jarvis knew it was a Sevrés French vase, hand crafted and hand painted with a scene of French aristocracy, most likely from the 1880s or 90s.
A quick search on eBay turned up two similar vases being offered as a set for $5,000.
“Searching there gives an idea of its value,” Klein said. “If there’s a lot of the items and they’re not moving very quickly, then it’s not very valuable. However, if there’s not a lot of them and they do sell quickly, then you’ve got something desirable.”
A similar search of Thompson’s basket, which she knew was of Salish Indian tribe origins but didn’t know how her uncle acquired it, turned up a similar basket being auctioned on eBay for just under $500. She was excited to have the opportunity to bring it in for appraisal.
“I think this is a great idea,” she said. “For only $5, the price is right.”
Thompson added she’d once called an appraiser about her second item, an antique painting, but his services proved to be more than she could afford.
As for the basket’s value?
“Oh, I’m keeping it, regardless how much it’s worth,” she said. “It has too much sentimental value.”
Jaren said due to the buzz the event created, she looks forward to regularly scheduling more roadshows, albeit with a name that keeps them out of copyright trouble with PBS.
David Hayes: 392-6434, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.