Family heirlooms valued at Museum Roadshow

ccope@thestate.comJanuary 18, 2014 


The vase passed down from great-great grandma could be worth thousands of dollars – or mere pennies.

Many gathered Saturday to learn about the value and history of their family heirlooms at the Museum Roadshow, which takes place twice a year at the South Carolina State Museum.

Modeled after PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow,” the event brought in appraisers of all kinds to value items ranging from pottery to books to weapons.

Siblings Julia Cagle, Martha Blount and Lentz Ivey brought family heirlooms, including Civil War-era guns and an old barometer.

Their grandmother and mother were interested in genealogy, so the siblings knew some history behind the relics. Some, they thought, might have belonged to a distant ancestor who was a Confederate soldier and had traveled from New York to Mobile, Ala.

Jack Meyer, a conservator at the museum, appraised pistols, bullets and Confederate stamps for the family.

Meyer is not a fan of online bidding sites that sell antiques. He said items often are overpriced or underpriced and that some people attempt to pass off fake products as authentic antiques.

Cagle said the siblings were just interested in finding out more about the old items and did not plan to sell them.

She said she watches TV shows that highlight antiques but that “Antiques Roadshow” is her favorite. Her sister said Saturday’s experience felt like the TV show and was an enjoyable way to learn about the items that have been passed down for generations.

“It adds depth and insight to the stories we’ve been told,” Blount said.

Celeste Wszola, who helps organize the event for the museum, said Saturday was the second time that the experts included someone who could appraise Native American art and artifacts.

Those appraisals were performed by Thomas Kuhn, a former archaeology and geography professor at Midlands Technical College. He said one man brought in an exceptional piece of Catawba pottery, which people recognize and associate with the South Carolina tribe.

As time goes on, Native American artifacts steadily increase in value, Kuhn said.

But Saturday was about more than just money.

“The stories behind objects make them even more priceless,” said Anna Kate Twitty, a spokeswoman for the museum.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

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