We've all heard of Antiques Roadshow, that PBS production in which regular people bring in their vases, paintings, tea sets and other odds and ends to find out some provenance (where something came from) and value. The hope, of course, is the old stamp collection handed down from Uncle James is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars!
Here at the historical society, we value historical (read: old) things. It's our business and our passion. We know some of you share that same interest: to know and understand our "things" and place a value on their existence. But just what is an "antique" and how does someone go about appraising it?
An antique is an old collectible item. It is collected or desirable because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. Usually it is an object that represents a previous era in human society. Antiques are usually objects which show some degree of craftsmanship, or a certain attention to design such as a piece of furniture or an early automobile.
Appraising may seem obvious but it takes a professional with years of experience in particular subjects to assign an appropriate value to an object. In cities appraisers are often found in auction houses, appraisal societies and antique/collectible dealerships. Auction houses often hire and train people with fine arts degrees or museum backgrounds. However, most appraisers cut their teeth as collectors, antique/collectible dealers, insurance brokers and antique restorers.
Appraisers are not licensed, but most professional ones belong to appraisal societies like the Appraisal Association of America. These professional groups often give courses and teach the mechanics of appraising. This is important, because an appraisal is more than an informal or even an informed price estimate. It's a legal document often used for financial reasons for which the appraiser is liable.
On Saturday, July 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ted Comstock, former associate curator at the Adirondack Museum and antiques specialist, will be at The History Museum providing verbal (not written) appraisals of your valuable treasures. This is the first time Ted has been at the museum since 2006 when more than 50 objects were appraised - ranging from a children's miniature tea set to a late 19th century solo canoe. Items that can be appraised include furniture, china, glass and other home dcor; camp items such as packbaskets, fishing tackle and snowshoes; photographs, books, prints and paintings.
Ted specializes in Adirondack and camp furnishings, including historic photographs, books, sporting equipment, prints, Adirondack rustic and paintings. He is widely versed in the region's history and antiques. He has spent the last 25 years appraising books, paintings, postcards, photographs or what he calls "paper ephemera." Adirondack guide boats are also a specialty for Mr. Comstock, who has brokered more than a hundred guide boat sales.
In talking to Ted, he expressed that he enjoys supporting the local historical and arts organizations and has conducted antique appraisal programs from Malone to Elizabethtown to Long Lake and many places in between, always donating the proceeds to the organization hosting him.
Attendees are encouraged to stay and hear Ted's fascinating explanations of how items relate to local history. In conjunction with oral histories and stories, the physical items of our collective past illuminate long ago places and times but continue to contribute a vital link to where we've come from. Objects hold value either emotionally or financially or both. This event takes those emotionally valued pieces and helps place a dollar value on them. It can be a fun and exciting experience for everyone.
Heritage Day, with Antique Appraisal, will also be an opportunity for community members to see the new exhibit Developing Our History, Finding our Family: The Stedman and Moses Collection of Historical Photographs in The History Museum and join or renew a membership in the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society. So please stop down and enjoy some family fun-filled activity and bring along that pocket watch on the nightstand or rare book on your shelf, meet Ted, and deepen your own understanding of Lake Placid history.
Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society
Contact: Jennifer Tufano
by email at
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