Jay St Mark, antique appraiser for 40 years, will be coming to Bethel to appraise residents’ treasures, heirlooms and collectibles. “We thought it would be a nice addition to our program to have him come in,” Pat Rist, President Bethel Historical Society, said.
This is the fourth time the event has been held in Bethel. Rist said that in previous years, as many as 40 or 50 people have shown up with items to be appraised. Rist said, “He is very discreet when talking to people. He sits at the far end of room and what he says is strictly between him and the other person.”
St. Mark, who has held similar events at other historic societies in the area, said that the most exciting piece anyone has ever brought in was an Eric Sloane painting. “It was quite valuable,” he said.
Other artifacts of worth were old letters signed by Orville and Wilbur Wright. St. Mark said that the items people bring in run the gamut, but people are often disappointed by the worth of things they have cherished for years. He said the most commonly over estimated objects are often books. “People usually overestimate the value just because the books are old,” he said.
“People have brought furniture and he will go outside to look at it. China, glassware, clocks from Europe, antique toys and trains, paintings,” Rist listed the most common items people bring in, but said, “The only thing he will not appraise is weapons.”
“People often bring in things they have inherited and sometimes they are surprised and sometimes they are disappointed,” St Mark said, adding that it is always best to have items appraised in person rather than to try to do it on the internet.
“The internet is a tool, but it is not the tool,” he said. “You can acquire some knowledge but you can’t become an expert.”
St. Mark cautions that real value is determined by the selling price, rather than the asking price. Like everything else, St. Mark said that prices have come down considerably, notably because young people are furnishing their homes from Ikea and other modern stores.
“People in their 30s and 40s now have a mountain bike in the garage, a Mercedes in the driveway, and no furniture in the house,” he said. “Echos of our culture are now affordable and available.”
St. Mark said that the one exception is paintings, which have held their value fairly well. “Everyone has walls,” he said.
The event will take place on Sunday April 15, at the Stony Hill Fire House from noon to 2:30 pm. Rist said they chose the firehouse location for it’s flat, open parking lot, so people can bring in large items. The cost is $10 for the first item, $5 for the next two, with the limit being three. If a person brings more than three items, they can go back to the end of the line and come through again.