On Wednesday, Sept. 6, the New Paltz Community Center transformed into a museum of personal artifacts. From attics, storage containers and dusty shelves, local residents brought their hidden treasures for appraisal from antique specialists.
The New Paltz Historical Society (NPHS) scheduled their second annual antique show as a fundraiser for their organization. Residents donated $5 at the door to have their possessions appraised by professional antique dealers.
“It’s modeled like ‘Antique Roadshow’ on television,” local volunteer Dolly Woodin said. “But we call it ‘what it is and what it’s worth.’”
NPHS was founded to engage the public in the local history of the town and preserve the artifacts and knowledge they have collected. On the first Wednesday of every month, they provide other historical programs.
Walter Marquez, owner of the Antique Barn on Water Street, and his assistant Paty Lott ran the event. Marquez is an “antique enthusiast” and has been professionally dealing antiques for eighteen years.
“This is the second year we’ve had this program and it has been very successful,” Marquez said. “We want to bring people together. Last year it was a standing room only, I think the bad weather kept a lot of people away today.”
Items were brought up to a table in the front of the room and examined in front of the entire audience. Marque explained what characteristics of each item determined its value. By analyzing contexts clues such as markings, dates and the materials each item was made of.
The most valuable item appraised that night was an old Native American made blanket. Lott said the item was given an estimated value of $7,000.
Lott noted the characteristics of the blanket that gave it its high antique value.
“The blanket was most likely from the Hopi Tribe,” Lott said. “It was kept in amazing condition and because of how long it is, you can tell that it was handmade.”
The discussion became less about the monetary value of the individual item and instead about its history. The material in each antique revealed clues about where and when it came from as well, as what the item was.
Marquez also explained the various market trends each kind of item goes through. Certain “vintage” antiques that may have been popular and valuable in the past may not retain their value. He also clarified many mistakes and misconceptions amateur antiquers make when dealing with their belongings.
People shared stories about the origins of their items: ranging from family heirlooms to more bizarre discoveries. New Paltz resident Karen Sutton made an interesting discovery.
“One of my tenants had passed away and while we were cleaning out her storage unit we found an old leather case with ‘Doctor’s Emergency Kit’ written on it,” Sutton said.
Instead of a stethoscope, Sutton found an old-fashioned revolver, buckshot, maintenance tools and a concealed-carry holster. The gun did not have any trade markings and the appraisers were unable to determine if it was functioning. Sutton was advised to contact the police to determine its legality.
While most people entered looking for a mere price tag, they left with a wealth of stories and an engaging history lesson.