Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Heirloom Discovery Day" Program Summary

Georgie Stillman conducted her eighth annual "Heirloom Discovery Day" for the Chula Vista Genealogical Society program on Wednesday, 26 November.  In this program, CVGS members presented some of their heirlooms to Georgie for her expert evaluation and appraisal.

She noted that markets reflect what people will buy, and that values of heirloom items have changed in recent times.  She said that "Insurance companies now pay for replacement market costs, not for new item costs, and places like eBay, AmVets, and Goodwill Industries are sources for heirlooms and antiques."  She also said "for wealthy people now, old things don't signify class and wealth."

For each item, each person provided a brief summary of what they brought for appraisal and its' known provenance. Georgie then described what the item was, the approximate time it was created, and its approximate value.  The CVGS members who had their heirlooms evaluated included:

*  Helen described her father's green cigarette case from the 1940s.  Georgie noted that it was made of aluminum, a collectible, and was worth $10 to $15.

*  Helen also presented a dented copper oil can that was used by her father in the 1910 time frame.  Georgie noted that it was heavy, well made, used in an industrial setting, and worth $25 to $35.  She noted that "Americana things are not selling well."

*  Jane had an oil lamp cap with the words "Imperator" and "Caligula" stamped on it - the family story was that it was from Roman times.  Georgia said that wasn't that old, was made of clay and not metal or terra cotta, and had some corrosion due to dissimilar materials.

*  Karen S. presented her aunt's small doll - a "bisque doll" - with jointed arms and legs, found in a trunk.  Karen made the clothing.  Georgie said it was from the 1890 time period, was not especially valuable, perhaps $50 to $70.

*  Carol had three linen and lace garments from the 1920s.  Gerogie said they were machine made, have some value (perhaps $60 to $70 each) because collectors, museums and historical societies have an interest.

*  Debbie brought a Carnival glass dish and a beautiful copper enamel candy dish, both from the 1950-1970 time period.  The latter was probably bought in Spanish Village in Balboa Park and is worth about $35.

*  Maryvette's friend's grandmother made a large quilt with butterflies.  Georgie said it was from the 1920-1940 time frame, was stitched by a machine, and was worth $45 to $65 because the market is low at this time.

*  Susan had four barber bottles of her husband's grandfather and great-grandfather, who migrated from Germany to Chicago in the late 19th century.  Georgie noted that these bottles probably held colognes and other liquids used in the late 19th century by barbers.  They may have been from Bavaria or England, and had a value of $300 to $500.

*  JoAnn presented an antique bowl found in a trash can by her son in Fresno.  Georgie said it was carnival glass, with a design that was not rare.  It may be worth $35 to $50.

*  JoAnn also had three framed San Francisco scenic prints by Don Daly, a well known artist.  They might bring $35 on eBay.

*  Gerry brought her father's green shaving mug, made of bone china.  

*  Gerry also brought some old school books from the late 19th century.  Georgie referred her to an old book dealer.

*  Diane described her large tray with actual butterfly wings, and she thought it might be from Brazil.  Georgie said it was from the early 20th century, perhaps from Asia or Central America.  There are now laws about items like real butterfly wings being sold.  She thought it might be worth $50.

*  Carol presented an 1850 era framed drawing done by her ancestor, who was born in Germany and came to San Diego in the 1880s.  Georgie noted that the market probably doesn't care, but the family cares, and a local historical institution might care because of the important family associations.

*  Sandy brought an encased Ax that belonged to Chet Norman, an early Chula Vista landscaper and parks director.  Again, Georgie noted that a local historical institution might be interested.

As always, the time went very quickly, and Georgie displayed her ability to assess and discuss a wide variety of heirlooms.  Georgie's style is informal, enthusiastic and interesting - she really enjoys seeing these types of artifacts and "stuff" because they are, in the main, from middle-class homes from the Victorian era and later. She is used to appraising high-end items for collectors and estates. It is fascinating to see an expert appraiser at work - the words seem to flow effortlessly and I am awestruck by the knowledge level. 

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