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Library Holds Antiques Appraisal Event

Antiques appraiser Alan G. Snyder, left, speaks about a painting brought for his examination.


They came with paintings, tea sets, muskets and flatware, all hoping that perhaps they’d found a treasure lying around the house.

But, alas, there were no hidden treasures found this day. Still, most of the people who attended the April 22 antique appraisal event at the township library seemed pleased with the examination given their offerings by Alan G. Snyder, a certified antiques expert.

Snyder, who is based in Bucks County, Pa., held court for more than two hours, carefully examining pieces brought to him before offering his estimate as to what they were worth.

There were some items, such as a mounted broadsheet newspaper from the late 1700s and an electrified musical instrument of unknown origin, for which Snyder could offer no estimate. Instead, he suggested the owners take their items to an expert in that particular field.

But for others, he could give not only a value, but sometimes a mini history lesson on the piece.

This is not the first time Snyder has appeared at the library. Joan Serpico, the library’s outreach and reference librarian, said that Snyder last appeared there about two years ago.

Serpico said Snyder’s visits serve a valuable purpose for families with heirlooms.

“I think a lot of people are curious about their treasures at home and they’re wondering if they should give them away or hold on to them,” she said. “So this is a way to help them make that decision.”

Snyder has been in the business since 1979, he said, and in that time has seen his share of those treasures, some of which caught their owners by surprise.

“One lady brought in a $5 cup and saucer, but she carried it in a very rare basket,” he said. “I thought she was bringing me the basket, and she said, no, no, I use that around the house, just to keep junk in. She was very worried about the $5 cup and saucer, and ignored this basket that was worth in the upper hundreds to $1,000 because she paid no attention to it.”

“That’s the most fun, when I really get a surprised patron like that,” he said.

Snyder said the current “hot” items in the antiques appraisal field are items from the U.S. Civil War and (this may cause Baby Boomers to cringe a bit) items from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Civil War items have retained the popularity they gained in 1990, after the airing of the Ken Burns’ series about the war on PBS, Snyder said.

“It sparked a renewed interest in the Civil War, which brought in fresh collectors,” he said. “That’s been going very strong for all these years.”

“The scarcity of the items is actually diminishing because more and more people are finding great-grandpa’s letters and now the stuff is coming out with great regularity,” Snyder said. “They’re not as rare as they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. But that’s ok. We’re still finding great pieces of Americana that normally would have been buried or thrown away, and people are coming to realize, put them in the hands of a new collector, it’ll get better exposure.”

Memorabilia from the 50s, 60s and 70s is also starting to flood the market, he said.

“The time period and the items associated with that time period have become very collectible,” Snyder said. “It doesn’t mean everything is worth a fortune, it just means that it has an interest in the collector’s eye. How long that’s going to be going, I know it’s been a strong market for a good many years now, and like anything else that quickly picks up and gets a lot of interest, it tends to level off at some point.”

As for the future, Snyder said the electronic gadgets that we use everyday will be the collectibles in 40 years.

“My suspicion is that the electronics of today will be collected 40 years from now because the teenagers of today will be the future collectors, and they’ll be buying the old iPads and the old cell phones and that sort of thing because now it becomes a nostalgic thing for their generation,” he said.

 

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