The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 7, 2006


Antiques Roadshow appraiser evaluates Carlisle antiques

"How much is it worth?" You may regard an item passed down from a deceased grandparent, a great-aunt, or a parent as "priceless." Nonetheless, you may wonder what that vase may really be worth on the antiques market or for insurance purposes a couple hundred dollars, a few thousand dollars, or even more?

The 40 attendees at last Tuesday's antique appraisal event hosted by the Carlisle Historical Society found out the market value of some antiques. Kerry Shrives, senior appraiser at Skinner, Inc. and frequent guest on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow, came to the Congregational Church to evaluate the condition and approximate the value of the local treasures. Many of the items on display for public discussion dated back to the late 19th-century Victorian era. Most had been handed down in a family, generation to generation. Among the items appraised were pieces of tableware, including molded pottery, porcelain, and majolica plates; many had been great-grandmother's wedding gifts, and some had been brought to America by immigrants. The knowledgeable Shrives reviewed the pieces with ease, and shared maintenance tips with the audience.

Childhood toys bring back sentimental memories, and not surprisingly, owners treasure and preserve them over the years. For example, a bicycle that came in (with its owner) still sported its original tires. The bike was assembled in Fitchburg, Mass., before 1920 (it did not appear in catalogs after this date). A straw-stuffed German-made bear that pre-dated the familiar Teddy bear was from the turn of the century. Four generations of Carlisle owners had lovingly patched and mended their little friend. Two dolls with porcelain faces and jointed bodies were brought in. Shrives observed that they probably were more for display than toys, because they "looked like they had been played with in the front parlor." Each was appraised at $300 to $400.

Some of the more memorable items included (with their estimated value in parentheses):

· A Massachusetts Total Abstinence Society framed lithograph print in Victorian frame from the late 18th century ($150).

· A lantern made in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1852 with its original owner's named etched on glass; the lantern was set in a metal stand ($1,200 to $1,500).

· A heavy silver tray, part of a tea service, in Colonial Georgian revival style from the early 20th century, crafted by Arthur Stone in Gardner, Mass., for Shakespearean actress Julia Marlowe Southern ($8,000).

· A clock with alarm and "nice face" made in 1890 by Seth Thomas ($300-$500).

· A copper luster pitcher with an historical Cornwall's Surrender decal transfer and painted by hand, made in England in the 19th century ($4,000).

Skinner, Inc. appraiser Kerry Shrives displays a much-loved 100-year-old bear, which was "priceless" but too worn to be valued as an antique. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

· A painting of a scene outside Woodstock, Vermont ($1,500-$3,000).

Throughout the appraisals, Shrives offered practical hints and advice on preserving precious antiques. She emphasized the need to store antique garments and quilts in acid-free tissue paper. She recommended preserving prints on acid-free paper, only available for the past 15 years. Shrives warned owners to clean items gently and with patience and not to use rough cleaning pads. She suggested waxing furniture twice yearly with paste polish, not sprays. Another caveat: don't wrap metals in Saran Wrap, because it might adhere to the item in hot weather.

While it may be hard to part with a memory, sometimes an item's value may make parting with it a bit easier. At least, regular cleaning becomes more of an investment than a chore.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito