... OLD? $OLD! Here's how it works ...
The old saying, "One persons's trash is another person's treasure" still holds true and is proven again and again by the professional appraisers on WGBH-TV's Channel 2, in Boston. Seven thousand ticketholders (yes!) were allowed to bring two antiques each for the professional "pricing" this past year at the Bayside Expo. Fifty items out of those thousands were chosen to be shown on TV starting in January, 2001.
Octogenarian Johanna Beal of Melrose attended this professional evaluation for the first time with her daughter and son-in-law, Betty and "Woody" Knowles. Betty had read about the event in the Channel 2 membership magazine and called for four tickets ... the maximum number available. The fourth person in their party was unable to go. That turned out to be a stroke of good fortune for the grateful party of five strangers in front of them in the waiting line, one of whom used the extra ticket. It was going to be a fun time. Everyone was in a happy mood.
The tickets were booked for six separate showings throughout the day and the expectant attendees stood in line for more than an hour. Johanna was grateful for the small folding chair her daughter had brought. The long, long lines of waiting people were calm, polite and very friendly.
Some people were carrying crystal treasures and porcelain objects, all from another era and of varied values. One man had a gigantic solid brass vase as tall as he was. Some had tables; others had chairs. A small middle-aged lady had her grandmother's cabinet sewing machine on casters. Another person had brought a cut glass bowl as large as two adult arms making a circle, fingertip-to-fingertip. One man had a child's unpainted rocking chair. He said, "It was my great-grandfather's. It has never come apart." There were many colorful toys. Those in their original boxes were the most valuable. Many of the cheerful fraternizers remarked woefully about "the stuff I gave away so long ago when they first became old or unnecessary in day-to-day living."
An orange slip of paper was given to each hopeful and they joined a group with the same type of items. Their destination was an extremely large room with a multitude of antiques everywhere and tables for each category of items. Betty and Woody went to the watch table, where they also had their porcelain ink stand appraised. It boasted pretty figurines and one receptacle for ink; another for sand. Because there were still many of them in existence, they were told, it was worth only $250.00!
Johanna took the doll she had brought to the toy line and reviewed its history. In 1921 she was a mature eight-year old who had all the responsibilities of an only girl and oldest in a second-father family with her mother, herself and six younger brothers. When she told her gentle third grade Sunday School teacher that she had never had a doll, she was asked by the kind, middle-aged teacher, "Can you come to my house tomorrow? I have a doll I would like to give to you." Monday at 8:30 a.m., Johanna and one of her brothers arrived at the teacher's front door. She was lovingly presented with what she was certain was the most beautiful doll in the world. It had been given to the Sunday School teacher when she herself was a child, by her grandmother. The extra clothing that accompanied it was lovingly and meticulously made by hand.
When she arrived home with the happy present, Johanna's mother must have recognized the worth of the gift, Johanna chose to think. It was put safely away and never played with.
Many years later, when Johanna recognized this dear doll's value, she allowed her granddaughter to enjoy it ... but only on the middle of her double bed. She often told her, "Someday this doll will be yours."
Now, in the year 2000, on this exuberant outing, Johanna spent about ten minutes with the professional appraiser. He pointed out that the porcelain head had been manufactured in Germany in the early 1800s. There were letters on the back of the doll's head along with the initials of the maker. He took off the neat substitute wig Johanna had bought, and insisted that the original hair should be shown. He said it increased the doll's value.
Johanna and her doll were not chosen by any of the 60-70 appraisers, covering over 20 special categories of antiques. She did not go to the Green Room for makeup to be applied, or sign a release form and wait for her turn on a TV camera to start a whole new career in show business. She had no firearms to be checked by Security personnel under state and federal laws. She had no coins or stamps, so didn't care that there was not an expert on hand for appraisal. She was not approached by a stranger outside the main hall with a private offer of purchase.
But she HAD received a bona fide statement of monetary value for her sweet, longtime friend. She was told by an expert that the doll was now worth $600 - $800! Johanna was surprised. She had always considered her to be priceless.
October 6, 2000