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Experts appraise antiques at charity event

January 20, 2001

Experts appraise antiques at charity event



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writer


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherdstown resident Jean Anne Pugh would never sell the antique tin train that circled her childhood Christmas trees, but she was curious about its value.

That's why Pugh brought the German Bing train to the Shepherdstown Fire Hall on Saturday for a professional appraisal at Hospice of the Panhandle's first antiques appraisal fair.

Made to last and still in "great shape," the wind-up train that Pugh's grandparents purchased for her father in the 1920s is now worth about $250, said toy appraiser Dick Swope.

Swope and 10 other professional appraisers gave approximate ages and values of items ranging from autographed footballs, to shotguns to a rare portable Victrola.

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"Everyone has something that they think is worth $1 million," said baseball memorabilia appraiser Bill Bowen of Martinsburg, W.Va. "It usually isn't."

Fair participants such as Pugh paid $15 to have one item appraised, $25 to have two items appraised or $5 for audience seating. All proceeds from the fair benefited Hospice of the Panhandle.

The money will be used to provide hospice care for individuals without insurance or whose insurance doesn't cover all service costs, Hospice Executive Director Margaret Cogswell said.

Hospice didn't set a financial goal for the event, but Cogswell said she hoped to raise at least $2,000.

Fair costs were kept to a minimum because many individuals and businesses in the community donated supplies and advertising, she said.

Martinsburg auctioneer Donnie Hockman, who Cogswell called the "driving force" behind the fair, appraised several antiques he said he's never seen during his decade in the business.

One of those items, a Swiss-made miniature Victrola, drew a crowd when its owner put an old Dorothy Shay album under its needle.

The turn-of-the-century piece was designed to go in the back of a rumble seat, and would likely command about $1,500 at auction, Hockman said.

One of two jointed Hummel dolls that George Ann Blough, of Hedgesville, W.Va., inherited from her 84-year-old aunt was also a first for Hockman. The German-made doll was larger than the average Hummel figurine and most likely made of early papier mache.

The doll was so unusual Hockman was hesitant to put a value on it without researching its history. He estimated the doll to be worth at least $1,500, but possibly much more.

"I would say it's very rare," Hockman said.

Frank Grimes, of Martinsburg, was pleased to hear that the hand-painted Limoges porcelain plate he inherited from his mother is worth about $1,000. In 1910, his mother paid $2 for the 20-year-old plate at a church bazaar, Grimes said.

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