People who thought old items they had in their homes were worth little received pleasant surprises Saturday – although others found out items had more sentimental value than monetary value – as they made their way among the appraisers of the What's In Your Attic: An Antique and Collectibles Appraisal Fair Saturday.
The event, a fundraiser for the Historical Society of Harford County, was held in the Bel Air Reckord Armory. Proceeds will fund repairs of the society's North Main Street building, the former Bel Air Post Office.
"We feel it's been very successful," event co-chair Mary Cardwell said. "Everyone's been very pleasant, and people have asked if we would do it again."
Cardwell headed up the event with her co-chair, Mary Moses. Both women are volunteers for the Historical Society; Cardwell specializes in the archives, and she also works at the gift shop.
Moses is a genealogist.
"We're particularly happy with the appraisers who have volunteered their many, many hours today to give us free service for all the community," Cardwell said.
About 18 appraisers volunteered for the event, and they assessed items from jewelry to dolls to books, Civil War artifacts and China. It was organized in a style similar to the hit PBS series "Antiques Roadshow."
"When we opened the door this morning, I was quite nervous because we had so many people," Carol Deibel, vice president of the Historical Society, told Bel Air resident Cindy Mehr.
Deibel said the participants, however, had fun.
Mehr brought what she believes is a wedding basket dating to the 1800s, which she got at a thrift shop in Japan, as well as violin that is a replica of those made by Giovanni Paolo Maggini of Italy during the late 1500s and early 1600s, and a brooch she inherited from her great-grandmother.
She said the event seemed similar to "Antiques Roadshow," and she praised the many booths and the appraisers with their various areas of expertise.
"I thought it was very well organized and informative," Mehr said. "I found it very enjoyable."
People could bring three items to be appraised at $10 apiece, and event organizers estimated about $2,000 worth of pre-show tickets were sold.
Donna and Frank Hines, of Fallston, brought a 125-year-old fish carving set, including a knife and fork with walrus ivory handles, plus a mine-cut diamond engagement ring that is about 100 years old.
"I thought it was great," Donna Hines said. "I'd come again."
She asked her husband: "Wouldn't you, honey?"
"I look forward to coming next year," Frank Hines agreed.
Jenny Falcone, of Abingdon, brought a wooden screen, that is either walnut or rosewood, and a colorful Weller vase.
She showed both to Arthur Benser, a furniture restorer, who was impressed with the carvings on the screen.
"I bought it from a guy in Monkton for $20," Falcone said later.
The value of the screen is more than $300, which was more than she thought, and the vase, which has been passed down through her husband's family, has a value of about $125.
She noted her in-laws thought it was worth much more.
"It was a great event for a good cause," said Falcone, who follows the Historical Society on Facebook. "The Harford Historical Society does really amazing things, and you can't put a price on the history in Harford County."
Linda Essers, of Fallston, who specializes in doll restoration and appraisals, said she enjoyed the event. She owns the Appalachian Doll Co.
"I think the turnout was great, and everyone really seemed happy," she said. "I was surprised with what they brought; I thought there were some wonderful things."
Essers is a member of a local Questers group; Questers study antiques and promote historic preservation.
"A lot of people brought their childhood dolls, and that's fun, too, or their mothers' or grandmothers' dolls, and that's the best," she said.
Jack and Mary Call, of Churchville, brought a set of presentation goblets in a box that bore the name "Wilhelm II," and the year 1890.
Wilhelm II, or Kaiser Wilhelm, was emperor of Germany from 1888 to 1918, when World War I ended.
Mary Call told appraiser Bob Haslbeck they were only used once for her daughter's wedding.
Haslbeck told her and her husband that they should leave the goblets out on display.
"You're going to get a smile every time you look at this," he said. "Don't put it away in the attic; enjoy everything you've got."
Haslbeck, who specializes in art glass, Tiffany lamps, pottery and China, stayed for about half an hour after the event ended to look at all of the items people were waiting to show him.
Beverly Murray, of Bel Air, chatted amiably with Haslbeck as she showed him a box of plates bearing pictures of children, part of The Hamilton Collection.
The plates belonged to her mother.
"This has been very enjoyable, enlightening," she told him.
Murray said later that her mother is giving treasured items to her relatives as she prepares to move out of her home.
"Every time she comes to our houses now, there is a little part of her there," she said of her mother. "It is too cool; it gives me the chills!"