Dust off those dolls, polish those paintings, collect those coins, scrub those swords and wrap up those war mementos and bring them to the annual Appraiser Fair, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22, at the St. Clement’s Island Museum.

The museum, which has held the annual event each January for the past few years, will help individuals looking to learn what those heirlooms are worth.

“Some people have brought some very fascinating items,” St. Mary’s County Museum Site Manager Christina Barbour said, “both historically speaking and things that have been in their families that they didn’t realize they had and want to learn more about it.”

She added one appraiser is an auction house appraiser while another is a certified gemologist.

Barbour recalled one year a family had an uncle who was a Tuskegee Airman and brought several items to be appraised.

Barbour said some people want to know if something is valuable, while others are looking to sell.

“One woman made the comment that she didn’t want her grandchildren to play with [an item] anymore,” Barbour said. “She realized that, ‘Hey, maybe I want to save this and give it to them when they’re older and not [now] as a play toy.’”

Barbour said a variety of appraisers will be on hand with focuses on such areas as fine arts, furniture, military, farming, jewelry, U.S. and foreign coins and currency and dolls and doll-related items.

“My philosophy has always been that you want to see people have a windfall,” said William Parran of Parran Coin Company. “And when it’s not a windfall you just have to break the bad news to them and tell them, ‘Hey, I’m sorry but this is what it is.’”

Parran said over his 38 years in the business he’s seen several “very, very nice coins that were rather valuable.”

He added that one of the rarer coins of his profession is the 1913 V Nickel, the three-legged Buffalo Nickel, which he sees “one or two a year, but it’s not rare,” and that the 1804 Silver Dollars, which were only released as special sets, are worth “phenomenal amounts of money.”

But Parran said whatever people do, they should never clean their coins.

“A classic example is I had a guy bring me a quarter one time and it was an 1856 S and I looked at it and said, ‘Who cleaned this?’” Parran recalled. “He said, ‘he had because it was tarnished’ and he wanted to bring it to me all nice and bright. I told him, ‘What you’ve just done is rubbed $50,000 off of value.’ He took basically a $51,000 coin and turned it into a $1,000 coin.”

Though Barbour said as many as 200 items are able to be appraised, she encouraged individuals to show up as early as possible as items are appraised on a first-come, first-served basis.

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