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Got Junk? Local Appraisers Want to Know

Howard County HIstorical Society to hold its own "Antiques Roadshow."

If there is one piece of advice antiques appraiser Lyndi McNulty has for people, it’s to never throw things away without a professional once-over.

“I tell people if you think it might be good, it doesn’t hurt to bring it in,” McNulty says. “Some plastic jewelry is worth more than gold.”

Over the years the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster has given estimates on everything from a signed Picasso lithograph to a Fender guitar valued at $20,000-$30,000.

“Usually people come in with all sorts of interesting things that have been passed down through the family over the years,” she adds. To her, nothing is too strange to take a look at, although she says the main problem she runs into with people is their overestimation of an item’s worth.

“The hardest thing to do is to tell somebody who thinks it’s worth $20,000, and we have to say, ‘No, it’s worth $4,000,’” McNulty said.

On Saturday, May 21, McNulty will be one of three professional appraisers who will be giving verbal estimates on items during the to be held at in Ellicott City.

The event is the ’s annual fundraiser. This time organizers wanted to try something different, having set-up the event in the vein of  the PBS hit television program Antiques Roadshow.

“Gather up some things you’ve been thinking about—drag them out of your attic-- and bring them out, and let us tell you what we think,” McNulty encourages.

But she warns that unlike in the show, these appraisers don’t have added resources at their disposal to perform a detailed review of each item.

“People should bear in mind that we’re doing this with five minutes notice,” she said. But she adds that it should be an interesting time. 

“It’s a fun day. You’ll get to see other people’s fun things that they have, and hear lots of stories,” McNulty concludes.

The event will raise funds for the relocation of the Society’s library, archive, and offices to the new Charles E. Miller Branch and Historical Center of the Howard County Public Library System in Ellicott City later this year.

During the event there will be hundreds of rare and used books for sale on various topics, including Maryland and Civil War history. For antiques lovers, there will be rare items for sale such as presidential campaign scarves circa 1880, along with historic newspaper front pages such as The Baltimore Sun’s April 1912 paper, featuring the Titanic disaster.

At last year’s event, the Historical Society raised $8,500.

“We’re hoping to surpass that this year,” said Executive Director Lauren McCormack.

McCormack hopes the fundraiser will bring in enough money to help defray the cost of the move. She explained that her hope with the move is to become more accessible to the public. At the moment, while the organization is situated in Ellicott City’s historic district, she says that its location up a steep hill prevents more people from stopping by.

“We’re not as accessible as we’d like to be,” she said. “With the move, it’s offering us the opportunity to reach so many more people.”

McCormack adds that the Historical Society is endeavoring to reach more types of people than it has in years past.

“We want to expand the demographic of people that we reach so it’s not just the retired folks,” she said. “There are all the various demographics that exist in Howard County—We’re thinking of ways to become relevant to them."

In the meantime, McCormack is focusing on this year’s event. She’s even bringing her own unique antique to be appraised—An 1860s-era stovepipe hat. (No-it’s not Lincoln’s.)

“I think overall it’s going to be a really fun event,” she adds. “I’m hoping people bring in their treasures.” 

Event Information:

Tickets available at the door. 

9 a.m. Early Bird Book Sale admission: $15 (includes 1 appraisal estimate)

10 a.m. Regular admission: $10 (includes 1 appraisal estimate)

A 2nd appraisal is $10, and all subsequent appraisals are $5 each. 

For more information, call 410-750-0370

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