From handmade rugs from Afghanistan to paintings and turn-of-the-century jewelry, residents from Butte and the surrounding areas turned out Saturday for the Montana History Foundation’s Montana Antiques Appraisal Fair.
The annual event, which continues Sunday and is being co-hosted by the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives at the Butte Civic Center, gives Montanans the opportunity to meet with professional appraisers to see what their antiques and heirlooms are worth.
It costs participants $20 per object to meet with appraisers Timothy Gordon and Grant Zahajko, and proceeds from the event are going to the Butte Archives.
There were both surprises and disappointments when it came to discovering the value of participants’ objects Saturday. However, many of them said it didn’t matter to them how much the objects are worth. What matters, they said, are the stories behind the things they hold dear.
Arcylle Shaw of Cardwell was one of the day’s presenters. She arrived at the Civic Center with two sterling silver souvenir spoons from Dillon and an ornate Art Nouveau necklace.
Shaw said the necklace, bronze in color and studded with purple stones, belonged to her mother, Mary Jackson, who received the necklace as a high school graduation gift.
Shaw’s family has long wondered if the stones were amethysts, but Saturday Shaw learned that the purple decorations are colored glass. She also learned the necklace was manufactured in France as early as 1900, long before her mother graduated from high school in Whitehall in 1926.
Shaw described her mother as a giving person.
“She always had room for one more at the table. Always,” she said.
Shaw inherited the necklace from her mother before her mother passed away. Later, Shaw’s older sister kept the necklace for a while before returning it to Shaw. All the while, no one wore the necklace because it was too small.
Shaw’s spoons, meanwhile, are also turn-of-the-century, possibly pre-1900s. Shaw said a friend gave her the spoons when she moved into a nursing home.
“I wanted them because of her,” she said, adding that she displays the spoons in a shadow box in her home.
You have free articles remaining.
At one point during Saturday’s event, spectators gathered close to the appraisal table as Timothy Gordon viewed a local woman’s collection of history ribbons and medals, which included a ribbon depicting William A. Clark when he ran for the U.S. Senate, a brooch from the World’s Fair, and another ribbon advertising a campaign to make Bozeman the state capital.
“Thank God that didn’t happen,” Gordon joked.
The Clark ribbon got an appraisal of $800.
Jim Morgan of Anaconda brought the appraisers something a little bit more rustic: a long, chestnut-brown horsehair jacket that was owned by his great uncle, who ranched in the Miles City and Forsyth areas, where Morgan said both sides of his family homesteaded.
The horsehair coat was his uncle’s town coat, Morgan said. His great uncle also owned a bison coat, which he wore while he worked.
“I would say he was wearing this jacket in the 1880s,” said Morgan of his great uncle’s jacket, which was manufactured in Iowa.
The jacket was appraised at around $600.
“I’m not so much interested in the value because (the jacket is) never going to go anywhere — it’s going to be hanging in the closet,” Morgan said.
He added that he plans to pass the jacket down to his children.
“You can’t sell it for $600 when it’s worth a lot more than that as a family heirloom,” he said.
Montana Antiques Appraisal Fair continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon. Registration for an appraisal, along with tickets for spectators, can be acquired at the Butte Civic Center box office. Appraisal time slots are limited so early registration is recommended. Firearms and mineral specimens are not allowed. The cost for appraisal is $20 per item. General admission is $10.