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Treasure Hunting

Posts tagged: collectible

What is my collectible worth?

   I received an email from a reader this week, asking for help. The man who wrote has some antiques and collectibles that have been in his family for generations. He’d like to know what they’re worth and who to go to for that information. 


   It wasn’t that long ago that finding out the relative value of your heirlooms was a difficult process. It usually required taking your items to an appraiser or sending photos and detailed information. And it could be expensive.


   For fine, rare and unusual antiques, that is still the case. You definitely need a professional’s opinion before selling or insuring. But, for most mass-produced items made some time in the last century, there’s an easier way.


   Go to the crowd.


   Take a look at Pinterest. See what people are talking about, linking to and pinning to their virtual pin boards.  Check online auctions like eBay and vintage marketplaces like Etsy, where you can get an idea of what your collectible is worth at the moment and what such things are selling for around the world. This will give you a good idea of condition and rarity and help you gauge demand.


   Ultimately, most things are worth only what someone is willing to pay. Collectibles, like fashion, are subject to popular trends. What was highly prized a few years ago, may not be sought after today. 


   Most of us never get that Antiques Roadshow moment, finding out the trash in the attic will make us rich. But, you never know. For every treasure there’s a treasure hunter.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap also writes about travel at Home Planet. She can be reached at 


Share your “Object of Affection”




    The cover story of the December 29th New York Times Magazine was “The Lives They Lived” and it featured profiles of a number of celebrities and luminaries who died in 2013. What I found most interesting were the photos of possessions belonging to some of those profiled: James Gandolfini’s battered Cadillac. Editta Sherman’s tube of red lipstick. Esther Williams’ swimsuit. The gloves Scott Carpenter wore in Space. 


    I especially liked that the Times used the phrase “Objects of Affection” to describe the things people loved. That’s my phrase, too.


    I’ve always been fascinated by the things we hold dear, the things we hold on to. Over the years, in my Treasure Hunting columns and blog posts, I’ve shared the story behind a number of my own favorite possessions, but in November 2013, I started a series on my Treasure Hunting blog featuring the “Objects of Affection” of people in our community. I sent out an email to some of my Facebook connection asking if they’d be willing to share the stories of their favorite objects. The response was immediate and fascinating. Men, women, and even a child, wrote of their love for ordinary objects that ranged from sheet music to paper mementoes to childhood toys to jewelry to heirloom furniture and artwork


    My idea was to give ordinary people a chance to share their fondness for ordinary objects. I was able to post a few before the busyness of the holiday season overwhelmed me—this is a personal project, not an assignment— but in 2014 I’m looking forward to getting more stories up on a regular basis.


    Consider this your invitation to show and tell.  What is the thing you hold onto? Why? Send me an email (subject heading “Object”) at and I’ll do the rest.


    Oh, and the photo above? That’s one of my own objects of affection. It’s the old yellow ware bowl in my kitchen. It was in my mother’s kitchen and my grandmother’s kitchen before that. I’ve written about it a number of times over the years because I can’t imagine living in a house without it.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at





Object of Affection: A Silver Merrie-Woode Bracelet

   When Susannah Wessel reaches into her jewelry box, she can trace the happiest summer moments of her youth in the simple crescent of a sterling silver bracelet. The band, engraved with her initials on the inside and the letters M and W on the outside, is a loyalty bracelet from Camp Merrie-Woode, a girls camp in North Carolina that has been operating since 1919. 


    “My father’s company purchased a company condo in the small town of Sapphire Valley, North Carolina in 1981,” Wessel wrote.  “Shortly thereafter, my family started to spend our vacations there whenever possible.  There is a lake called Lake Fairfield. One day we decided to take a walk around the lake and we stumbled across a camp for girls: Camp Merrie-Woode.  It was in such a beautiful setting, nestled beneath Old Bald Mountain.”

    After talking to the director, Wessel’s parents enrolled her for the next summer. Wessel received her bracelet in 1988 after attending six summers. She spent a total of 10 summers at Camp Merrie-Woode, the last three as counselor.

    “The camp is still one of my favorite places on earth.  It was there that I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow and ride a horse.  I learned canoeing, kayaking, and sailing.  I slid down rocks and swam a mile to the dam in the Dam Swim.  I went on campouts, hikes, and river trips, and I even slept out in a canoe on the lake,” Wessel wrote. “I made life-long friends, and I cried like a baby on the last night each year when it was time to go back home.” 

    The idea of a silver bracelet given to loyal campers was conceived by Dammie Day, the founder of the camp. The bracelet is given at the campfire of the last night of each camp session and over the years, thousands of girls have received their Merrie-Woode bracelets. Wessel and her husband Sean eventually purchased the North Carolina condo from her father’s business and their daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps. She’ll receive her own bracelet this summer.

    “I wear my Merrie-Woode bracelet the whole time she is there.  In so many ways it connects me to her as she is enjoying so many of the same experiences I had there many years ago,” Wessel wrote. “ We will be connected by a bond that will never be broken and will always hold a special place in my heart.”

     “This simple, elegant, bracelet is a beautiful, tangible reminder of that.”    


Cheryl-Anne Millsap's audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at









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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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