Stepping back through time

October 03, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

Linda Caricofe beheld perfection, and it was breathtaking.

Prompted by friends, a shy woman had packed some of her childhood dolls to be appraised at the inaugural Hagerstown Community College Antiques and Collectibles Show and Sale.

Now she was with Hagerstown antique dealer Caricofe, who was blown away by the depth of the collection of early '60s dolls. And this was just the first outfit in the closet, so to speak.

The kicker for Caricofe, who works with husband Richard at Beaver Creek Antique Market on U.S. 40? The woman's attention to preservation.


Outfits originally sold with tiny accessories remained intact; among the collection's coups, a bridal gown accompanied by miniature bouquet and garter.

"It was exciting. It was wow, out-of-this-world exciting," Linda Caricofe remembers a year later. "It was one of the most exciting encounters I've ever come upon."

Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5 and 6, Caricofe will be back at HCC to provide rough appraisals of items at the second Antiques and Collectibles Show and Sale, which benefits the Alumni Amphitheater Project.

While appraisals are given, assorted seminars will discuss auctions, collectibles and artifacts. Civil War-themed presentations will tap into the event's historical undercurrents.

Caricofe is one of a handful of people who will provide pricing estimates for heirlooms as disparate as dolls, glassware, pottery and Oriental rugs, with one caveat. Appraisals are informal, not to be confused with certified versions used for insurance purposes.

"It's interesting to see the different things come in," says Lisa Stewart, HCC alumni coordinator. "Some things you didn't think were worth anything were worth more than you thought, and some things you'd think would be worth a lot weren't worth as much."

Last year, Stewart volunteered to help appraisers and marveled over some of the items visitors sought an opinion on. A toy truck, for instance, was valued at $1,200. A photo id card for Marilyn Monroe's USO tours was another unique, hot item.

At the show as a spectator in 2001, Denny Stouffer, with Stouffer's Auction Co. in Smithsburg, will return as a general appraiser this year and says interest in antiques is improving even as supply dwindles.

Many times, people don't know what they have, such as a recent appraisal of a rabbit figurine. The owner believed it was a 50-cent yard sale item; Stouffer priced it closer to $100.

The allure of the unknown is among the show's draws for him.

"Just seeing the variety of antiques that comes out there, and what will show up," Stouffer says. "You never know what's going to walk through the door."

Working in antiques for a decade, Caricofe fashions an appraisal in four steps, judging an item's age, construction and condition, then balancing quality with desirability.

"Not all items are valuable just because they're old," she says. "Even if an item would be 100 years old, it doesn't mean that item is valuable."

Take old postcards. Caricofe says there are a lot of antique postcards from the 1900s, each with an average value between 50 cents and $5. But have the right postcard - say, an Halloween-themed card featuring a witch - and the value shoots to $35 or more.

The trick is no one knows what hidden treats are lying about in attics, garages or storage closets. Beloved trinkets with sentimental value may yield more than warm memories of childhood.

"A lot of times people will bring things in their family, or things passed down to them, so oftentimes they'll have a real feeling to what they brought," says event co-chair Judy Kofoet, an HCC alumnus and clinical coordinator and instructor in the school's radiography program. "I think that's why the appraisers are so enthusiastic. They enjoy hearing those stories."

Prior to meeting her husband in the early 1990s, Caricofe was too busy for antiques, too harried for collections. Before too long, though, she was bitten by the bug afflicting many antique dealers.

"We're just hopelessly addicted to it. This is what happens: You collect things and then you become an antique dealer to continue collecting and continue your habit," she says. "I guess all antique dealers are like that. ... We're just like a pair of kids with a whole bunch of toys."

This weekend, she gets to share her joy with a legion of Tri-State residents each panning for gold among dust-gathering relics from years past.

"Just the very idea that these things have lasted through the years, especially when they look like new," Caricofe says about her enjoyment of antiques. "It's like stepping back through time."

If you go . . .

Second Annual Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association Antiques and Collectibles Show and Sale

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5, and Sunday, Oct. 6

Athletic, Recreation and Community Center

Hagerstown Community College

Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown

Admission is $4, free for ages 10 and under. Proceeds will benefit the HCC Alumni Amphitheater Project

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