'What's It Worth?' Fundraiser

I understand why fall is fundraiser season. Spendy summer vacations are over, the holidays aren’t quite breathing down our necks, and it seems to be a good time to hit people up for a worthy cause. (I know my boys’ schools are doing it.) Maybe that’s why the advertisement for the Fort Collins Symphony Guild’s “What’s It Worth?” fundraiser caught my eye. A take-off of the perennial PBS favorite Antiques Roadshow, “What’s It Worth?” sounded like at least as much fun as the caramel corn and magazine subscriptions that have been circulating around my neighborhood.

At $15 for the first item and $10 for a second, the appraisals were reasonable, especially considering that whole ‘worthy cause’ thing. But I had no idea what item to have appraised. I’m fresh out of antique Tiffany lamps and 18th Century French Provincial furniture. All the original artwork in my house was done by my kids or me. My jewelry box has a fine collection of vintage lint. I so wish I would have had the guts to recreate this bit from comedian Brian Regan and take a rusty spatula, but I chickened out for fear of looking like a lunatic. (Really, is there anything more awkward than when a bunch of strangers doesn’t get the joke?) In the end, my husband and I decided to take his 1897 Rockford (Ill.) Watch Company pocket watch. We knew its value was mostly sentimental (my husband was born in Rockford), but we were curious what the appraiser would have to say about it.

We didn’t get to the mall until the last hour of the event. By then most of the other appraise-ees had come and gone, so we didn’t have to wait. We bought our ticket and were directed to Leon Feldman (Public Volunteer Appraiser Since 1988), the gentleman in charge of watch appraisals. He welcomed us, but he looked tired and confessed that it had been a long day. After hours spent assigning value to thousand-dollar platinum watches, he seemed underwhelmed by our trinket. But he kindly told us a little bit about the company’s history and complimented us on the watch’s condition. Favored by railroad men and farmers back in the day, Rockford watches are in general reliable and hard-working—as is my husband, so I suppose that’s fitting. As for the appraisal itself…well, unless we find a tiny copy of the Declaration of Independence wedged inside the case, my husband’s got to keep his day job.

Even after stopping to chat with a woman who was having a book of antique presidential photographs appraised, we were in and out of “What’s It Worth?” in less than fifteen minutes. That makes this week’s activity one of my fastest, but I still had fun and would do it again. With or without my spatula.


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