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Area residents get their treasures appraised

November 10, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

A photograph that Babe Ruth signed for a little girl about a year before his death now is worth thousands of dollars, according to antiques appraisers evaluating area residents' treasures Saturday.

Nancy McDonough of Easton, Md., brought the photograph to an appraisal Saturday at the urging of her daughter, Susan Peterson, who sits on the board of directors of the Washington County Historical Society, which sponsored the event at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

McDonough described meeting Ruth at his apartment in June 1947. A family friend took her to meet him because she was into baseball, McDonough said.

Ruth got out of bed and met her in his bathrobe. She remembers that he was "very, very nice," and he addressed the autographed photograph, "To my little girlfriend Nancy Oliver," she said.

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Appraisers told McDonough Saturday that the picture now is worth at least $3,000, she said.

Other items proved more mysterious.

Larry Jessop of Clear Spring brought an unusual chair to the event. He bought the chair, which had a swivel seat to adjust its height and removable arms, at auction 10 years ago, and was told it was a photography chair from the 19th century, Jessop said.

Since the purchase, other appraisers have told him the chair was a dentist's chair or possibly was used in the military.

Jessop brought the chair to the appraisal in hopes of getting a definitive answer. Three appraisers later, the best guess was that the chair was, indeed, a photographer's chair used in the late 19th century.

The chair probably was not worth more than a few hundred dollars, but was an interesting conversation piece, said James Pook, an appraiser with Pook & Pook Inc. of Downingtown, Pa.

Proceeds from the appraisal will benefit the Washington County Historical Society, said James D. Neville, executive director of the society.

Saturday's event was the first of its kind for the historical society, and organizers were pleased with the turnout, Neville said. People paid $10 per item for appraisal, he said.

About 100 people were expected to bring antiques in during the four-hour event.

Bill Sollis, president of the society, had a pair of portraits appraised. He bought the paintings, of a man and a woman, at an estate sale in 1990, and they now hang in a special spot in his home, Sollis said.

While the identity of the artist is unknown, Sollis believes it was a local person, he said.

Appraisers valued the paintings at $8,000 for the pair, he said.

Bev Abeles of Hagerstown had one of the more valuable items at Saturday's event.

"Her Martyr's Mirror," a religious book out of the Mennonite tradition, is worth between $5,000 and $7,000, conservatively, said Jamie A. Shearer, an appraiser with Pook and Pook Inc.

Abeles believes the book, which was about 4 inches thick with leather binding and metal clasps, was handed down through her family because they have a bit of Mennonite in their background, she said.

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