They arrived in the former hotel lobby with dusty cardboard boxes and other nondescript parcels pulled from basements, attics, and aged chests of drawers.
Inside each carefully stuffed box lay a family heirloom from decades past, a gift from a friend, or an antique curiosity picked up by chance somewhere along the way.
Most objects were laden with personal stories and memories. Yesterday afternoon was their opportunity to obtain a price.
About 30 people attended the second annual "What's It Worth?" appraisal at the Park Lane Luxury Apartments, 142 23rd St., near downtown Toledo.
The fund-raiser was put on by the Preservation Committee of the Old West End Association and was inspired by and based on the PBS television program, Antiques Roadshow.
The event featured five area professional antique dealers and appraisers who estimated the value of visitors' objects for a cost of $10 for one item or $15 for two.
"It's nice to know that something you value is also valued by the antiques dealers," said Judy Winder, preservation committee chairman, who noted that last year's event raised about $600 for preservation activities.
Roy and Shirley Brown of Sylvania arrived with one of the more attention-getting objects of the day: a 1904 "Sterno Inferno" coffeemaker.
The chrome-plated, table-top device included a glass orb for hot water which would trickle to a perforated metal filter and then percolate into a pot with a spigot.
A small alcohol burner would keep the coffee warm.
Appraiser Harry Tennery eyed the contraption.
"Interesting piece. Interesting piece," said Mr. Tennery of Riverport Liquidators LLC, of Toledo. "I've never seen one with all the guts in it like this."
"What do you think it's worth?" asked Mr. Brown.
"The market in the Toledo area for a lot of things is down, with the economy being what it is," Mr. Tennery explained. "But if I would insure this, I would insure it for $100 to $150 if you were to sell it, you might get half that."
Yet for every visitor who left with dashed hopes for discovered treasure, others such as Jim McQuillin, of Carleton, Mich., had low expectations to begin with.
Mr. McQuillin, 64, brought an Edison light bulb he found inside a wall of a 19th-century farmhouse he once owned in Delta, Ohio.
"Someone must have taken it out of the socket years ago and just thrown it in there," he said. "I had never seen anything like it. It's probably not worth anything. But before I throw it away, I'd like to know."
Appraiser Rob Palicki, of Mill Race Antique Mall, Waterville, held the bulb to the window light and pointed to its broken filament. "When these are working, they bring about $35 each," he said. "This would probably bring $10."
Or just enough to recoup yesterday's appraisal cost.
"I'll probably wrap it back up and put it in a drawer," Mr. McQuillin said afterward. "I suppose it would make a good conversation piece."
Two sheets of newspaper fetched a potential $1,500 appraisal, one of the day's highest. The paper appeared to be a special edition of the former New York Herald of stories from the Civil War's final weeks. The largest headline: "IMPORTANT - Assassination of President Lincoln."
A 1904 woodburning picture of a former Toledo mayor that was once the seat of a chair received a $50 appraisal. One of the owners, Mark Del Brocco of the Old West End, said that years passed before they realized what they owned.
"We didn't know who it was until [area historian] Ted Ligibel said, 'Hey, it's Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones,' and we said 'Where?' and he said, 'On your mantel there,'•" Mr. Del Brocco recalled.
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