CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — It’s nearly impossible to glace at a segment of the popular PBS show Antiques Roadshow without thinking of the potential riches one has stuffed away in the attic or basement.
Local nonprofit Shenendehowa Neighbors Connecting (SNC) took the human desire for learning the story behind personal items and coupled it with finding out what they’re worth for a fundraiser last weekend.
SNC is a membership-based organization focused on enabling social connections among its members and encouraging participation in the community. Its mission is to engage residents of the area age 55 and older in social, educational, and supportive activities that enable them to live fully and independently in their own homes in southern Saratoga County.
The organization’s Antique Appraisal Fair on Nov. 2 at the Historic Grooms Tavern in Rexford drew the interest of residents from all over the Capital Region.
Lending their knowledge and experience in antiques were appraisers George Heigel and Tim Kragt. Heigel had appraised items for SNC at a similar event the group held at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library a year ago. When he offered to do something like an Antiques Roadshow event for them the group leapt at the offer.
Both men do appraisals and valuations on a range of antique items in a variety of settings. Heigel owns and operates an antique shop and gallery on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa. They both donated their services for the fundraiser.
The event was advertised as an opportunity to have appraisals done by professionals for a fee of $10 per item or three for $25. The evaluations were given verbally and no items were bought or sold at the event.
“We had people waiting to get in at 9 a.m.” said Kathy Fleming, a member of the Friends of the Historic Grooms Tavern. “They were outside waiting when we showed up and it’s been steady ever since.”
The event was held in the tavern’s rustic reconstructed carriage barn. Those who had registered for appraisals were seen first and walk-ins, of which there were many, would take a seat on a folding chair or a church pew.
Jean Greenspan brought a table clock, a bud vase, and a green glazed porcelain coffee pot and a single, gold rimmed coffee cup from a set she has at home. Greenspan is originally from England and said all the items were English and had been her grandmother’s.
“The clock was valued at $1,000 because I guess clocks are still popular right now,” she said. “(Heigel) said the coffee set was probably worth about $200 for all the pieces; there’s a sugar bowl, a milk jug and three more cups and saucers. They thought it was from the art deco period but I think it’s earlier.”
Greenspan went on to describe a situation all too familiar for people who have collected items throughout the years or had them handed down by family members.
“My kids don’t want most of it,” she said. “I told them when I’m gone take what you want then pull up one of those big dumpsters in the driveway and toss the rest out.”
Joe and Lynn Farruggia were walk-ins who brought several large, colorful, Chinese prints and a framed black and white photograph of the 1908 or 1909 New York Giants baseball team. Joe Farruggia said he got the photograph from his grandmother’s home in 1994.
“They were just taking up space and we had seen the notice so we said why not,” said Lynn Farruggia.
Kragt looked at the items and valued the prints at about $100 each and the photograph the same.
“I don’t know how she came by the photograph,” Joe Farruggia said. “I’m from Long Island originally and they were a New York team so it makes sense. Maybe they were some family member’s team. It’s good to know what they’re worth.”
Pat Duchesne came to the Appraisal Fair with three items, a small box made in Asia, an Asian-inspired decorative arch made to be placed on a table, and one of a pair of Cinnabar oriental vases. The box and arch held very little value but Duchesne was happy to hear the vases were valued at $300 each.
“That really surprised me,” she said. “I watch Antiques Roadshow all the time so I said to myself now’s the time.
During a lull Heigel and Kragt were asked what had been the most interesting objects they’d seen during the day.
“A pair of 19th century, French, cut glass perfume bottles with bronze holders,” Heigel said holding his hands about 14 inches apart. “They would have been in a perfumery. A woman would go in, sample the fragrance from one of the bottles and order something like a quarter of an ounce. They’d make it up for her in the back and she’d leave the store with a little bottle of a very fragrant perfume. The bottles would bring about $1,000 each.”
Kragt said he had seen a signed etching from 1903 that was “very beautiful” but he was unable to make out the signature.
“It was an absolutely gorgeous piece,” he said.
Kragt had also seen a stack of letters written home by a Captain in the Union Army during the Civil War.
“In one letter the writer said the question in the army at the moment was whether to arm the Negroes and whether it should be with muskets or shovels and if it was shovels, should they be long or short handled,” he said.
As the two men discussed more of the items they’d seen Kragt described several pistols he’d looked at.
“The oldest was an 1850 Turkish model,” he said. “All of them had been worked on by someone but collectors want pistols that haven’t been worked on.”
“People shouldn’t bring their things to the beauty parlor,” added Heigel with a smile. “It’s a phrase that’s used a lot in this field.”