Red Cross digs up funding with Treasure Hunt


HAGERSTOWN -- Betsey Lillard said she knows one item she will not be setting out for a yard sale.

It's the needlework sampler she had appraised Saturday at the Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross' Treasure Hunt Antiques and Appraisal.

Not that Lillard, 51, of Clear Spring, would have parted with the sampler anyway. It has been passed down through her mother's family for generations and has significant sentimental and historical value. But Saturday, appraisers confirmed her suspicion the sampler has significant monetary value as well.

The early 19th-century embroidery records the births and deaths of many of Lillard's ancestors. Appraisers Linda Caricofe and Alesia Permansu were struck not only by the content of the piece, but also by its considerable size, its unusual hues of thread and its fine condition.


"These are different colors. Those days, you didn't just pick up the phone and say, 'I need some blue thread,'" Caricofe said. "(The embroiderer) was recording people's birth and death, but she didn't do it in mourning colors. She did it in beauty. This blue is beautiful."

After appraisers had reviewed the sampler, Lillard went on to reveal photographs of headstones of the family members referenced in the piece. She had taken the photos personally while doing research in New Hampshire.

"Oh, that's nice. This price keeps going up and up, doesn't it?" Permansu said. "You don't see pieces like this every day. This gives me goose bumps."

Caricofe and Permansu originally valued the sampler at around $5,500. Upon more careful examination, they increased the estimate to between $7,000 and $8,000.

"That is a very low, minimum estimate," Permansu said. She recommended Lillard reframe the sampler with acid-free paper and nonglare glass. She also suggested having the piece appraised by someone who specializes in samplers.

Dozens of people took their possessions to the Treasure Hunt. Maria Johns, director of financial development for the Washington County Red Cross chapter, said the organization successfully hosted an appraisal fundraising event in 2007. The group decided to try it again, only bigger.

"We had the idea to host an 'Antiques Roadshow'-type of event," Johns said. "The community lends itself to it, with so many antique stores in the county. It's a great opportunity for fundraising."

At the first Treasure Hunt, Johns said appraisers assessed 98 items. Event organizers expected to double that number Saturday.

Appraisals cost $5 each. Six appraisers were on hand with areas of expertise including military items, jewelry, glassware and postcards.

Vicki and Mike Schindel took a box containing several items to the event. A favorite was their 1930s Buddy Lee doll, an advertising tool for the Lee brand. Caricofe valued the doll at $350.

"'Antiques Roadshow' is really waking people up to the value of things that are laying in the attic," Mike Schindel said.

In addition to appraisals, the Treasure Hunt featured live and silent auctions, 20 vendors, a caricature artist and a car show.

Johns said the group hoped the event would raise at least $12,000 for Red Cross programs.

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