Residents get antiques appraised during Lehighton Heritage Weekend
Antiques expert Harry L. Rinker evaluates an early 20th century bowl for Nancy Kaiser during Rinker’s appraisal clinic at the PFC. Clyde R. Houser Jr. Building on Saturday. Proceeds from the event went to the Lehighton Borough Parks and Recreation events fund. Scan this picture with the Prindeo app to see a video and photo gallery from the event. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
Kathy Long displays her father’s American Flyer train set, which she plans to keep and pass along to her family.
Locals dusted off their antiques and heirlooms and lined up at the PFC Clyde R. Houser Jr. Building for expert appraisals by Harry L. Rinker on Saturday.
Part of Lehighton Heritage Weekend, the clinic allowed people to get an affordable analysis of their treasured — and sometimes not so treasured — items by the owner of Rinker Consulting, writer of “Rinker on Collectibles” and host of the radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?”
“We’re doing what is called a verbal appraisal clinic,” Rinker said. “You know, everybody has some old stuff around the house. If they want to get an appraiser in there to do one or two pieces, it’s very expensive. These appraisal clinics are a wonderful opportunity for people to make a donation to their local societies, and get things appraised at a very reasonable cost.”
The event was sponsored by the Lehighton Borough Parks and Recreation Board and Caroline O’Brien, with proceeds going to benefit Parks and Recreation events.
For a small fee, Rinker dispensed a wealth of knowledge, informing his customers about the market for their particular piece and a relative price range for a sale.
Lehighton Borough Council member and Parks and Recreation secretary Autumn Abelovsky said that the idea for an antiques appraisal came from community members requests on social media.
“I don’t know anything about antiques, appraisals, how it is run and how it is done,” Abelovsky said. “But, when I talked to people, the number one person they mentioned was Harry Rinker. I thought, ‘Well, I’m never going to get this nationally known man to come to Lehighton.’ I emailed him, he agreed to come, and we jumped on the opportunity.”
One of the more interesting pieces that caught Rinker’s eye was an American Flyer model train set, brought in by Kathy Long. The set itself was in good condition, but Rinker said the intact box was what made it all the more valuable, possibly $250 or more.
“This is all sentimental to me, and I thought to myself, ‘It’s probably not worth all that much.’ He said it would be so much if you had the train setup, but he said the box is where the money is. I realize the box isn’t in the greatest condition, but it was enough to impress him,” Long said.
Despite Rinker’s interest in the set, Long said that she will likely pass it along to family so that they can have something from her father, the set’s original owner, who has passed away.
During a break in appraisals, Rinker took questions from the crowd, explaining the somewhat volatile world of antiques.
Right now, he said, the hottest market in the antique world is high end items, such as classic Tiffany lamps or Winchester rifles.
Rinker also had some time to clear up some of the fallacies people may believe about the world of antiques.
Equating family value or emotional value to monetary value, he said, is a common problem. In other words, just because you have fond memories of grandpa’s old rocking chair doesn’t mean that you can sell it and retire on the proceeds.
“It’s a sad thing when you think about these items in terms of the dollar value, because the real value is the emotional, sentimental value,” Rinker said. “Another big misconception is that people think if something is old, it must be worth money. Age is not a value factor anymore. Today, all the value of an antique or collectible is centered around one basic thing — is there someone that wants to buy it? And if there’s no one who wants to buy it, all the value is gone.”
Regardless of the end values, Rinker’s customers had an enjoyable experience learning about their unknown treasures.
“I have the best job in the world,” Rinker said. “You know what today is? It’s Christmas for me. Look how many presents I unwrapped today. People brought things in, I got to look at things, I got to play with them, I got to handle them. Who has a job like that?”