The Appraiser’s Diary – Use Your Attic Treasures     

Rachel G. Hoffmanby Rachel Hoffman

When I was seven at my mother’s antique store, she would sometimes let me in the front of her lawn to water the grass and flowers. I really loved doing that because the hose had one of those spray nozzles that had tremendous reach. One day, a man was coming in the store and I (here is where the story gets a little fuzzy) either intentionally sprayed him or accidentally sprayed him but either way, the man was drenched in water. He furiously marched into the store and told my mother and she came outside and told me that “Rachel Grace Marie Hoffman! We don’t hose down our customers!” and she and I apologized both up and down to the man and my mother helped dry him off. In her haste to rectify the situation, she didn’t take me inside and when the man left the store, I sprayed him again.

If you are the man I sprayed 22 years ago and you are reading this, please accept my sincere apologies and know that if you ever come back into the antique shop on South Broadway, the only water I will be offering you now is the cold bottled kind.

64880I grew up in my mothers’ antique store on South Broadway. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by wonderful things at a young age and so, I wasn’t afraid of them when I was older. I grew up sitting on antique Windsor chairs, using Haviland china, and playing with antique dolls. The antiques, whole fabulous to look at, are not meant to be tucked away. They are meant to be enjoyed and used for what they were made for when they were originally manufactured. They are screaming to come out!

So often in my practice, I come across things that “have been in a box or attic for the last 40 years” because of good intentions of not wanting to break the item or I hear “I was not allowed to touch or play with this doll because it was a special one.” Using your things and taking good care of them is a great experience for all people – especially young people. It also doesn’t hurt them. So many things today are disposable – plates, napkins, toys, even furniture. It’s important to remember that with antiques, they have already stood the test of time and with proper care, will do for another hundred years. If you have a set of china packed away from Grandma, I encourage you to use it. Eating off nice plates and using sterling silver forks and spoons really elevates the “everyday experience” to a special one. Try it, you will see what I mean. Properly cared for, you can continue to enjoy your items for generations.

If you are thinking antiques and vintage items are out of budget reach, think again. It’s incredible that the prices of true antique/vintage household items rival those brand new at the mall. If you come to Antique Row in Denver, or pretty much any antique store in Colorado for that matter, you will see how truly reasonable it is to have something in your home with character, a story, and good construction.

10501725_10152315959883163_5709642958745360973_nAntiques of all kinds are another way of traveling. We learn of different lives and times or if the items are family heirlooms, we learn about generations before us and keep their significance alive. Think about something you have tucked away out of sight and this week, take it out and use it. Shoot me a picture of your dinner on china or your tea party with those special teacups that haven’t see the light of day in a long time. Or, if you don’t have any but want to start some traditions, I will see you soon on Antique Row, where you are bound to find a treasure!

Rachel Hoffman is a certified appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers and is also the President of Denver’s Antique Row, a community of antique stores along South Broadway. Please come visit, we promise the hose will be turned off!

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