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Trash or Treasure? Antiques and Collectibles

Program Description

Now that boomers are faced with an empty nest, they may start sorting through their garages, kids' rooms, and attics and finding things they forgot they had! It is always fun to dream that any of this stuff could be worth a fortune. Learning what is trash and what is a treasure makes for an educational and fun program.


  • Features to look for, such as marks or signatures, in various fields of collecting.
  • Spotting fakes.
  • How antiques are valued.
  • What makes something a "collectible."
  • Learning history through antique objects.


  • Antiques dealer; see http://www.antiqueshopsa2z.com/montana.htm
  • Other experts knowledgeable about specific collectibles speaking on subjects such as doll collecting, coins and stamps, phonograph records, glass, and ceramics.
  • Spokespersons from local historical societies and/or museums.


  • Length - 1.5 hours
  • Classroom-style seating.
  • Preparation time - 2 hours. Add one hour if you decide to "Make It Special."

Learn More About It

  • Kovels Online: http://www.kovels.com.
  • Antique and collectible experts Ralph and Terry Kovel offer videos, pamphlets, and books on collecting. Apply for a free account, which will allow you to look through 200,000 appraiser-approved actual prices of antiques or collectibles. Read the book: Kovels' American Antiques: 1750 - 1900 by Ralph and Terry Kovel.

Make It Special

Ask presenter if he or she would appraise one item per person in attendance at the program. Log on to the Kovel Web site and look up the value of one item for each participant.

Market It

Flea markets, rummage sales, resale shops, auctions.

Reprinted with permission from the Missouri State Library and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov