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12th Annual Antiques Appraisal Luncheon Held at Harris-Lass House Museum

Marilyn Keever wanted to know the value of a Noritake vase she found under the sink at an old workplace decades ago. Alma Guillot was curious about the material of a tea set that once belonged to her Merchant Marine uncle during the 1940s. Catherine Alexander brought pictures of the tables her grandfather crafted with inlaid wood images from his native Dalmatia. These three ladies were among the 55 guests who came to the Harris-Lass House Museum on July 9 for the antiques appraisal luncheon, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara. After gently setting down their collectibles, keepsakes and family treasures at one of the tables, guests enjoyed a box lunch. In the meantime, antique appraisers carefully examined the guests’ items.

“People want to know if they have a diamond in the rough,” says luncheon chair Donna Marencia. “The appraisers do not provide written appraisals. They give a verbal appraisal. The difference between a written appraisal and a verbal appraisal is about $500 an hour. The cost of the antique appraisal luncheon is $20. The appraisers come to do this pro bono, for free.”

Bob Byrd, president of the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara, contributed a small green statue sculpted to depict two people of Asian descent.


“This color is what they call spinach color,” says antiques appraiser and columnist for The San Jose Mercury News Steven Yvaska. “It’s faux, the lovely French word for fake. This is faux jade. It’s pretty, it’s decorative. But there’s no antique value. You’d find this at Chinatown, Japantown, some sort of gift shop. You’d probably have to pay $40 to $60. On the secondary market, as we call it, it’d be about $25 or even under. Pretty but not a whole lot of value.”

Barbara Crum wanted to learn more about her grandfather’s timepiece from his days working for the railroad.

“Pocket watches and, typically, railroad watches get a lot of use, and so the faces get scratched on them … This one, the numerals look like they’re in absolutely perfect condition,” says Craig Trimble, a general partner with Antiques Colony in San Jose. “It has a sweep second hand on the bottom, which is unusual so it shows it’s a high quality watch … It also says that it’s sterling. A watch of this size would probably sell in the $100 to $200 range. The fact that it’s sterling just doubled the price. So I’d say you’re getting close to about a $500 watch.”

Gracie Garcia, owner of Gilroy Antiques, pointed out the importance of signed art work.

“The frame is exceptionally nice and it’s probably from the late 1800s or early 1900s,” she says while appraising a painting. “The canvas is in really good shape … In a store, it would sell for like $200 to $275. It’s not a signed piece so we can’t research it.”

Most attendees received their verbal appraisals with satisfied nods. Joan Cabral joked that she would bring back her prized 45 RPM record player next year to see if its value has increased.

“In the 1960s, we used to ‘drag the main’ on 1st Street in San Jose,” she says, proudly holding up her metal player. “It means you’re circling 1st and 2nd Street and visiting with others. If you were cool, you had a record player in your car. This is the record player I had in 1965 in my Chevy Super Sport.”


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