Go through those boxes of vinyl records, search through your pockets for rare pennies, dust off those old 8-track tapes and check those cupboards for fine china.
After all, they may be worth more than you think they are and appraisers at the St. Clement’s Island Museum may be able to tell you exactly how much at the museum’s annual event Saturday, Jan. 28.
“Some people have brought some very fascinating items,” St. Mary’s County Museum Site Manager Christina Barbour said in a 2022 interview, “both historically speaking and things that have been in their families that they didn’t realize they had and want to learn more about it.”
She added that some people want to know if something is valuable, while others are looking to sell.
“One woman made the comment that she didn’t want her grandchildren to play with [an item] anymore,” Barbour said. “She realized that, ‘Hey, maybe I want to save this and give it to them when they’re older and not [now] as a play toy.’”
Featured appraisers at this year’s event hail from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines. Fine arts appraisers include certified auction house appraiser Dorie Lear, Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals owner Henry Lane Hull, Hammer’s Antiques and Collectibles proprietor Bill Curry and Parron Coin Co. owner William Parron. Linda Neeley of the Black-eyed Susan Doll Club of Southern Maryland will appraise dolls.
“Basically the condition, which country it’s from,” Parron said of what he looks for in a coin. “It’s a crapshoot as to what’s valuable and what’s not. If there’s only 10 collectors for too many coins then guess what? You’re going to have coins worth not very much. If you have 10 million collectors and you have 10 coins then a lot of people will want that [coin].”
Parron, who has been in business for the past 40 years and an appraiser at the St. Mary’s County event for almost 10 years, said he’s seen several “very, very nice coins that were rather valuable” and said the coin’s condition is paramount and that people should never clean their coins.
“A classic example is I had a guy bring me a quarter one time and it was an 1856 S and I looked at it and said, ‘Who cleaned this?’” Parron recalled. “He said he had because it was tarnished’ and he wanted to bring it to me all nice and bright. I told him, ‘What you’ve just done is rubbed $50,000 off of value.’ He took basically a $51,000 coin and turned it into a $100 coin. You do not clean a coin.”
He added that the rarer coins of his profession is the 1913 V Nickel, only five of which exist and .
“Only five,” he said, “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. But I don’t really care for it; it’s not a very pretty coin.”
He said another is the 1937 D 3-legged Buffalo Nickel.
“What they did was take the die and struck some coins in the Denver mint and when they pulled the dies to clean them, they over-polished the reverse die on one of the legs,” he said. “The hoof is one on the ground, the leg is missing and then you see the thigh.”
Parron said over his 38 years in the business he’s seen several “very, very nice coins that were rather valuable” and his only advice is “don’t clean them.”
The event provides an opportunity to learn the value of heirlooms and how to properly care for them. Appraisers will be available to offer oral appraisal to members of the public for the following categories: fine arts, dolls, coins, and currency. The fine arts category includes ceramics, pottery, glassware, artwork/paintings, music boxes and small furniture pieces.
Appraisals are not certified; however, individuals can make arrangements for a certified appraisal at a later date and time.
The public will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis and are encouraged to only bring items that can be carried by hand.
Items that do not fit these categories will not be accepted for appraisal. In addition, there may be long wait times.