Trash or treasure? Find out

Courtesy photo

It might be that dusty old vase in your attic — the one from your great-grandmother with the Chinese characters on it. Or maybe it’s that book that looks like it might have come off of Gutenberg’s own press. Or perhaps you are wondering about those silver spoons that have been in the family for so long nobody remembers where they came from.

Wouldn’t you like to know what they are worth? Maybe you would like to sell them and are wondering what they might fetch, or perhaps you want to know if you should insure them. Maybe you are just plain curious.

Wonder no longer. Bring those mysterious and possibly precious objects to the second annual Antiques Appraisal (and Bakery Boutique) on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the Washington School auditorium in Washington, Va. While you hold your breath, one of several professional appraisers will inspect your furniture, book, print, silver, firearm, toy, train, vintage kitchenware, old building hardware, picture or objet d’art and help you decide whether to put it back in the attic, toss it in the trash or take it to Sotheby’s in New York.

The appraisal is sponsored by the Rappahannock Historical Society, which asks for a donation of $10 per item, or $25 for three items. You may leave your large items in the back of your truck and an appraiser will be happy to go out for a look, or you may bring pictures.

“Last year’s event was great fun for all who participated,” says John Tole, president of the Historical Society. “A surprisingly wide range of items, some valuable and some not, received careful and often enlightening, entertaining, and humorous scrutiny.”

Robert Jordan, an antiquarian book seller in Orlean, Va., will be on hand to appraise your old books. He says there are pitfalls to valuing your book, or indeed any antique, by comparing it to online listings. First, it can be tricky to match up what’s in your hand exactly with what’s being offered. Also, he notes, that item for sale online has, by definition, not been sold, so it may not be realistically priced.

Jordan says he occasionally does run across a valuable item in the hands of someone who fails to see its worth. But he cautions against counting on many Eureka! moments at the upcoming appraisal. “More often,” he says, “people come in with something they think is valuable, but it is not.”

The Historical Society will hold a Bakery Boutique at the same time and place. If your item turns out to be more trash than treasure, you can console yourself with fresh bread, muffins, cookies, or other baked delights.

The Antiques Appraisal is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 18 at the old Washington School auditorium. Questions may be directed to the Historical Society at 540-675-1163 or at