Looking for hidden treasure

Posted: Sunday, June 25, 2000

Dozens of Juneau residents waited with a mix of anticipation and apprehension to have possessions appraised Saturday at Mendenhall Center.

Everything from an 1877 edition of the Book of Psalms to rugs, parlor chairs with horsehair stuffing, Victorian jewelry and antique dolls were submitted to visiting Oregon appraisers Randeen Cummings and William Nelson, and Juneau auctioneer/appraiser Lady Jane Mulready.

``I assume people may have something Aunt Bertha gave them and they don't really know what it is -- or they have things from garage sales and want to know what they're worth,'' said Mulready, putting her finger on the pulse of the afternoon.

Ursula Ross walked away flushed with joy when the East German plate she submitted for inspection was declared worth $7,500. Ross bought four matching plates 30 years ago at an auction at the Baranof Hotel.

Furmin Marshall, 86, brought in a pre-Civil War quilt stitched by his ``grandmother and her slave lady about 1858-59'' in Mississippi. The quilt bears an appliqued design of potato vines.

``When General Sherman and his army were coming South (about 1860), they took the family silver and the family Bible and wrapped them in this quilt, dug up the fireplace hearth and put everything underneath,'' Marshall said.

The quilt was appraised by Cummings at $3,000 to $5,000, but Marshall says its disposition lies with his son. He has no intention of selling it. ``I think an awful lot of it,'' he said.

Marian Dau carried a pitcher hallmarked ``Austria.'' The green pitcher, painted with pink and yellow roses, once belonged to her husband's grandmother, Dau said. She wasn't concerned as much with its value as identification. ``I just want to find out what it is,'' Dau said.

Mark and Vicky Johnson brought a mirror, a chrome-plated dime slot machine from Juneau's New York Tavern and a reproduction camera formerly displayed in Winter & Pond's Juneau studio.

The mirror was appraised at $65 to $75; the slot machine at $2,000 to $3,000 if repaired. As he wheeled out the Fulmer Graflex on its cast iron stand, Mark Johnson declared, ``This has been fun. It was worth the effort.''

``I do not consider myself an `expert,' '' said Randeen Cummings, a certified member of the International Society of Appraisers. ``Basically I am a specialist in many areas.'' Cummings has scrounged for antiques throughout the Lower 48 as well as managed antique shops. Her specialties include items from the late 1800s through the 1930s, such as 19th century furniture, accessories, cut glass and art glass. She also has expertise with Navaho baskets, contemporary scrimshaw (1950s to 1990s), primitives and fine cabinetry, she said.

Randy Nelson specializes in brewerania, teddy bears, comic books and sports memorabilia. He lectures on antiques the second Saturday of every month at The Lighthouse Gift Shop and Antique Gallery, in Florence, Ore. Nelson was referred to the mall show by the television show, ``Antiques Roadshow.''

The appraisal event continues today from noon to 5 p.m. Fees are $10 for the first item and $5 for each additional item, said Lisa Peterson, marketing and promotions manager for the mall.

Peterson had something of a surprise herself Saturday concerning an earth-tone weaving on which she'd allowed her dog to have puppies. The appraisers identified it as a Yakima Indian rug worth about $800.

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