Treasures in the attic

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    SUSSEX COUNTY-It was a little squiggly gold thing with a top like a button and two legs splayed out at the bottom, and you could ask 100 people what it was and get 100 different answers - none of them correct. So when Sussex County Community College held its Third Annual Antiques and Treasures event last weekend, an area woman decided to bring in the funny little item in to see if someone knew what it was. She was directed to Jay Kohn, one of five appraisers at the event and a specialist in antique jewelry and gem identification. Kohn could hardly believe what he was looking at - a 95-year-old birth-control device. It was, he said, "without a doubt the most amazing thing that I have seen in a long time." He identified it as an IUD - an intrauterine device - made from solid gold in 1910. "The lady who brought it in had no idea what it was," he said. "And when I told her she wanted me to put a value on it. I told her that it was priceless and belonged in a museum." Kohn didn't know what she decided to do, but he kept a picture of the device. A lot of people like that woman came to the event, bringing objects from attics, basements and garages that had been knocking around for as long as their owners could remember. Here was an opportunity to find out if they were worth anything. "This event started out as something to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the college and it just took off," said Janet Cutshall, co-chair of the event. "This year we have five appraisers and a series of lectures on topics such as antique dolls and fine silver. We also have a number of vendors and it really brings the community together," she added. People from all over the county stood in line with hopes for a favorable appraisal on items big and small. Tanya Knaap from Newton was over the moon when told by appraiser Tony Grigal that a painting she had bought for $5 at a church auction was worth between $300-500. "I am delighted," she said. "He told me that it was one of the nicest things that he had seen today. He couldn't tell me much about the painting other than it was southwestern and worth so much more than I paid for it," she went on, adding that she would hang it back up on her living room wall. "I'm defiantly going to keep it," she said. "I knew that it was a nice piece and I just wanted to satisfy my curiosity." Not everyone got the good news that they were hoping for. Ron Huber of Stillwater brought in a violin which his father had given him only to discover, "it is not as old as I had thought and turned out to be a reproduction worth only $600, but I am going to keep it because it sounds too good to sell and I want to keep it in the family." The item that Jill Schafer from Branchville brought in may not have belonged in a museum, but she was told that a similar signed early 1900s Gustave Stickley chair could be found in the Guggenheim in New York City. "I originally bought the chair as an investment, thinking that I would resell it, but now I think that I will keep it which is a big problem as it is getting to the point where I don't want to sell the things once I buy them," she said.