Treasure hunting

August 09, 1999

Art appraisalBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer

Marguerite Cyr always knew about the storage chest built into her home's attic floor. Although she lived in the residence for 40 years, her hectic pace didn't allow her time to explore it.

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"I was busy raising my children and never took the time," said Cyr of Hagerstown.

Recently, she went through the box and found several pieces of artwork.

Recognizing the signature of Western artist Frederic Remington on a print, Cyr decided to find out the value and history of the piece.

Cyr took the opportunity to do that on Sunday at The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, which hosted an art appraisal day for the public.


Appraisers Deborah and John McClain and John Newcomer of York Town Auction Inc. of York, Pa., donated their time for the event, which raised funds for the museum.

Using the tools of the trade - a magnifying glass, tape measure, text books and more than 60 years of combined experience, the appraisers advised people of the history, value and proper care for such items as watches, ceramics, paintings, toys and pottery.

A total of 135 people bought tickets for the event, according to Jean Woods, museum director. They paid $5 for each item to be appraised and were allowed up to three objects.

Woods said that more than 250 pieces were appraised but she was unsure of the total raised by the event Sunday afternoon.

People from Washington, D.C., Maryland's Eastern Shore, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia traveled to Hagerstown to have their items appraised, she said.

More than a fund-raiser, the event provided a service to the public by educating them, Woods said.

Judging Cyr's print of Remington's "The Quarrel," Deborah McClain estimated the piece to be worth $350.

"I thought it was worth something because it was a Remington," Cyr said.

Delighted to know her hunch was right, Cyr said she plans to give the heirloom to one of her sons.

Hagerstown resident Linda Murray and her family were on hand, sorting out the belongings of Murray's late great-aunt. They said some items were to be kept while others were destined for the Goodwill Association.

Murray rescued an eye-catching print of a woman standing in a doorway from the pile to be donated.

"It was going to Goodwill, but I liked it and thought I would do some research on it," she said.

The hand-colored print was signed by artist Wallace Nutting and dated 1912.

John Newcomer estimated its value at $75 to $100.

When determining an item's value, an appraiser considers the overall quality of a piece, its age, its desirability, if a signature is present and if the artist is noteworthy, Newcomer said.

He said Nutting was known for his paintings of furniture, and Murray's print was not very valuable.

"I'm not disappointed," Murray said. "I like it and was mostly just curious to find out about it."

For years, Jay Quinn and his family used a large old blue-and-white bowl for salads at dinnertime.

After doing some reading on antiques, Quinn of Mercersburg, Pa., decided the piece, which he bought for $30, might have some value other than holding vegetables.

"It's valuable because it's in mint condition and for its beaded edging," Deborah McClain said.

She placed a $350 value on the bowl, which was made in Stafordshire, England.

Roberta Peel of Alexandria, Va., brought along a large copper pot to be evaluated.

Given to her by a family member, Peel used the pot to hold firewood but wanted to know its origin.

After taking a look at the pot's features, including its seams, Deborah McClain decided it was European-made and worth about $250.

McClain said the item was used years ago for cooking meals inside a fireplace.

Despite the bowl's value, Peel said she doesn't intend to sell. The heirloom will be returned to its spot beside her fireplace and again be used to hold firewood.

"It was great just finding out about it," Peel said.

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