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What about the strawberries?

Are people who own antiques and collectibles losing interest in them or are they simply better informed than they used to be?

Yesterday the Iola Historical Society held its annual open house, strawberry festival and appraisal event.

As a volunteer in the appraisal area, I had a ringside seat to view what was coming through the doors. In a word, it wasn’t as much as last year, which in turn was down from the year before.

Why the decline?

It could simply be the weather. Last year was very hot to be in a building that is not air conditioned. This year it was a very comfortable temperature, but it was overcast and looked like it was going to rain any minute.

It did not rain, but perhaps the threat of precipitation was enough for people to spend their Sunday doing something else.

Another possibility for explaining declining attendance is that so many appraisal events have been done in Iola over many years by Krause Publications and the Iola Historical Society that we have simply seen much of what is available to be appraised.

I had an experience 20 years ago when an older fellow came to the office with a coin. I do not remember what it was any longer, but I do remember his reaction to my telling him what the price guide said was the value.

He was not pleased. He remained polite, but there was a stern tone in his voice when he said, “Mr. Chester Krause” had told him in 1962 that it was worth more than what I had said.

He was telling me that I was contradicting the owner of the firm.

These are the experiences one has with appraisals.

I did not notice anyone who was particularly displeased by what the volunteers told them. There were just fewer people coming through the door.

It is possible that the financial crisis of six years ago had temporarily swelled the number of persons who were hoping to find a little extra money among the things they own. This year’s experience might just be a return to fairly normal times.

Numismatically, there was almost nothing. There was only one person who brought in a coin. It was a Morgan silver dollar inherited from his father. Morgan dollars are always fun and interesting to look at. They are the most widely owned coin among the general public as it seems many parents or grandparents set at least a few aside many years ago.

However, they usually turn out to be common circulated pieces that disappoint the owner when they turn out to be worth $25, which strikes people as too little for a large silver coin that is well over 100 years old.

Still, I enjoyed the event. I ate my strawberry shortcake as a reward for a job done. That alone makes attending the event worthwhile.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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