Touching the past at antiques show

Event’s big draw is casual evaluations of heirlooms, or just objects with history

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter



If you go

• What: Clark County Antique and Collectible Show.

• When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 22 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 23.

• Where: Clark County Event Center, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

• Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for children 12-17 and free for children 11 and younger; expert identification and evaluation for $5 per object.

• Information: 503-282-0877 or

If you’re planning to head to the Clark County Antique and Collectible Show to find out how much your family treasures are worth, you might be surprised by an appraiser’s advice on what to bring.

“It’s what you think doesn’t have value,” quipped Kathleen Victor, a Redmond-based certified appraiser of personal property. She will be one of the experts on hand to estimate the value of antiques and collectibles at the Clark County Event Center this weekend.

Visitors will find hundreds of exhibitors and collectors selling turn-of-the-century furniture, antique toys, Victorian decor, garden art, old radios, vintage clothing, movie memorabilia, estate jewelry and more. For many, though, the main attraction is talking with the evaluators.

Victor once valued a pair of old athletic shoes at $25,000. They happened to be an early pair of Nikes from the 1970s. Nike was establishing a museum at the time, and had just bought back a pair for $28,000. The ones Victor appraised lacked shoe laces, which knocked the price down a few thousand dollars.

When Victor does a formal appraisal, she undertakes extensive research that includes compiling a list of “comps,” just like a real-estate appraiser does. The service she and other evaluators offer for $5 an object at antiques shows is much more casual — just an approximation of value.

“Items of value” have expanded beyond antiques, which are 75 years old or more.

“We have a new generation of collectors who are not interested in traditional antiques — glass, furniture, those types of things — and are more interested in ‘Star Wars’ or movie star memorabilia, things that aren’t necessarily antiques but have a possibility of great value because of demand,” Victor said.

The shoes are an example. But so are items that have been superseded by new technology — early cell phones, old wind-up clocks with ringing alarms, early video games such as “Pong.”

“In 25 years, electric typewriters will be collectible,” she said.

For family heirlooms, it’s helpful to compile companion documents, Victor said. These will explain the significance of the object, which helps establish its inherent worth but also the sentimental significance for the family. This bolsters the item’s value but also makes it less likely to accidentally end up at a garage sale. The documents should establish “provenance,” or how the item is connected to history. Birth certificates for the person who owned the item are helpful, too. If possible, the person who owned the item should hand-write details about it. These documents should be enclosed in a clear cover, with a large printed photograph of the item.

“I see a lot of things in families for three or four generations, and the stories behind them more valuable than the piece,” Victor said. “No one is qualified to set a value on sentiment. It is priceless.”