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Curious about the value of that curio? Appraisals on Main is May 20

By Joanne Beck
Holland Land Office Museum Director Ryan Duffy
Holland Land Office Museum Executive Director Ryan Duffy
Photo by Howard Owens

You know that old Tiffany-style lamp in the attic? The one next to the cuckoo clock circa 1965? Haven’t you ever wondered what they’re worth, whether to sell it or just in case there was ever a fire?

Well, now’s your chance, Ryan Duffy says. Appraisals on Main: HLOM Appraisal Day will have three experts available to examine and appraise up to five items per person.

“The whole concept is people bring in the items that they want to either learn what their value is, in terms of monetary worth, but also to maybe learn a little bit more about their history or use or what we call provenance, which is sort of background information that they might not know,” said Duffy, Holland Land Office Museum’s executive director, during an interview Wednesday.

The event is a fundraiser for the Holland Land Office and will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 20 at Batavia First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia. 

Appointments are required and may be made online or, for those without access to technology, by calling the museum at 585-343-4727.  

There will be three appraisers on hand from Bontrager Real Estate & Auction Service in Batavia, Schultz Auctioneers in Clarence and Cottone Auctions in Geneseo. They will meet with people for approximately 10 minutes, depending on how many items are brought in, and discuss what is presented before them.

“The beauty of having these three gentlemen is that they can pretty much look at anything. They've got a wide range of expertise, and it's kind of seeing just about everything you can see in the field, so we're really not limiting it,” Duffy said. “I will add that if somebody has an item that maybe is too big or they're not comfortable bringing that in, they can bring in photographs as a substitute,  images of them that they can have the appraisers look at to help give them some information.”

The cost is $5 per item, and proceeds will go toward "more programming," Duffy said.

As for Duffy’s personal experience in such appraisals, “I shy away from it,” he said. He has gone through the process, but not so much for any of his own personal items, he said. The museum has obtained these appraisers for past events and is familiar with their work, he said. Appraisals on Main are to help with the operation of the museum.

“We’re working on summer programming, another thing we're working towards is the west wing addition, hopefully moving forward in that process going forward. That's a multi-year project for sure. But we're in the beginning stages of that,” he said. “And working on new exhibits, as well. And other larger programming throughout the seasonal, major programs.”

Todd Jantzi, an appraiser from Bontrager, has been in the business for 27 years. It wasn’t his first career choice, he said, as his college aspirations were to become a teacher. When Jantzi was 10, his uncle took him along to an auction, and Jantzi found it “intriguing,” except for working on Saturdays, weekends, nights and in cold weather.

But the auctioneer’s call was too strong, and he was drawn back. Once he joined the family business, he stayed and never looked back. “It’s been a great position, a great occupation,” he said.

His advice for what people should bring to this event?
“People can bring in unique items, items of interest, be it local, unusual, is always the most interesting. They bring in what they think has value,” he said. “And we can share with them if it does or doesn't, they can bring items that they might want to have an appraisal for insurance reasons, so not necessarily even what they're thinking of selling, but just in case if they have something in their home.”

With a background of an uncle founding the Bontrager business in 1935, first in Lancaster, then moving to Darien and settling onto Wortendyke Road in Batavia, Jantzi may know a thing or two of what he’s talking about. What used to be conducted on-site, auctions are completely now online and happen about twice a week, he said.

He runs into items that have more sentimental than monetary value, and folks may have to hear that as well as the sound of a nice dollar figure for their goods.

What about that massive vanity set with mirror attached?
If items are too large or cumbersome to bring in, people may bring in photos  — Jantzi suggests taking five or six shots from all angles to allow for the best perception of the item. 

Has he ever encountered that big jackpot item that shocked its owner? 

“You get 90 percent with similar items like in our own homes,” he said.

These are verbal appraisals, and if people would like a written one, they can follow up individually with the appraiser after the event.

Several dozen people have signed up already, but there are plenty of slots remaining, Duffy said. The slots are in one-hour blocks for 10-minute segments. To sign up, go HERE. Or call 585-343-4727.

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