Experts help EBR residents value old objects at library event
Della Pressler decided Saturday was the right time to learn more about some of the antiques her parents collected over the years and left for her and her children.
So she grabbed an envelope full of paper currency from the 1800s and a few other items and braved the early morning bad weather Saturday to go to the East Baton Rouge Parish Library’s Jones Creek Regional Branch for its 13th annual Attic Treasures Event.
The free event gives people a chance to bring in unique and antique items and have an expert evaluate the pieces and possibly give the owners a little of the their history.
“I’ve been trying to look it up on my own and was getting frustrated,” Pressler said, refering to her attempts to price the individual currency bills herself.
Sitting across from expert Nicole Terrebonne, of Louisiana Gold and Coins, Pressler laid out dozens of bills, including Confederate and railroad bills as well as treasury notes from around Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
“I haven’t seen one this diversified,” Terrebonne said of the wide-ranging assortment of bills, in varying conditions.
Armed with a large tray full of books, a yellow notepad and her iPhone, Terrebonne went through what she called “fun obselete currency,” checking the condition, before finding it in a database and writing down a price. Some were missing edges, while others looked like they were sown together like a quilt.
Many other attendees had stories like Presslers’.
They inherited antiques or unique items from their family or found them rummaging through their parent’s attic and wanted to know their value and history, said LaTrisha Blunt, program coordinator for the event.
“People are anxious to see what’s in their attics and stored in chests,” she said.
Blunt said the premise behind the event was to create a local version of “Antiques Roadshow” — the popular traveling appraisal show that recently filmed three shows at the Baton Rouge River Center on July 27 — but without the video cameras.
The event is in its 13th year and has steadily grown in attendance each year.
Blunt has seen some interesting and expensive items during the three years she’s been in charge, such as the near mint-condition Gibson electric guitar a woman brought in last year an appraiser estimated was worth nearly $70,000.
She said the weapons people bring in are always interesting, especially those from World War II.
Experts in stamps, beads, Native American art and weapons and armaments are just some of the specialists Blunt said they try to have each year.
Jane Olson-Phillips, an expert on bead jewelry with 40 years of experience and the author of a book on the subject, said she enjoys working the Attic Treasures show because she loves seeing what people bring in.
“Most people don’t know what their beads are made of, so I can tell them what they’re made of and how they’re made,” she said. “Sometimes they think they’re worth more than they are, but I think people are surprised most or all of them are hand made.”
The most unique beads Olson-Phillips said she has seen were glass beads made in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s and 1930s.
Not everyone left the library with the answers they were seeking.
For 50 years, Nona Hebert has walked past a seven-inch tall white figurine in her house each day without ever really knowing what it was. She said it frightens her 6-year-old great-grandson so much that she has to cover it up when he visits.
Appraiser Mark Denham was able to identify one unusual item Hebert brought in, determining from several miniscule markings viewed under a magnifying glass that it appeared to a decorative napkin holder made in New York between 1865-1867.
The white figurine, though, remained a mystery.
“I’m gonna put my ugly man up until I find someone who knows what he is,” Hebert said as she packed up both items.