How to Determine: What’s It Worth?

Sponsored Content: Kaja Veilleux and John Bottero of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries know a thing or two about antiques.

Even before Antiques Roadshow became a hit PBS series, Kaja Veilleux was helping Mainers determine the worth of their antiques, art, and heirlooms. Joined by John Bottero over 25 years ago, they appraise tens of thousands of objects each year, helping people understand the historical context of their collectibles — and whether they could be cashed in for life-changing amounts of money.

Whether you’re downsizing, managing a loved one’s estate, or just curious about the curios crowding your attic, the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries team says a free appraisal can help you avoid a costly mistake. “Often, people end up clinging to bric-a-brac that has sentimental and no dollar value,” Veilleux says, “and selling items with significant value for peanuts at a yard sale.”

How do you differentiate trinkets from treasures?

Value is based on many factors, including age, authenticity, rarity, condition, and provenance. You need a professional appraiser who can accurately assess those features and understands current market conditions. 

Do you get a lot of surprises?

All the time. A woman once brought in a stitchwork sampler in pristine condition that had been in her family for generations. She thought it had only sentimental value. Through research, we discovered it was made in the 18th century by the daughter of the barge captain who took Paul Revere across the Charles River on the eve of the Revolutionary War. It sold for $465,000 at auction.

Are there a lot of disappointments?

A lot of times people come in with artwork and furniture — or U-Hauls overflowing with them — expecting to verify stories told by family members or what they’ve found through a Google search. We get a lot of people bringing in muskets they claim were carried during the Revolutionary War that have features that didn’t exist until decades later. We often have to deliver the bad news, and educate people as to the facts in a professional and compassionate way.

How vibrant is Maine’s antique market?

Maine has always been a hotbed for valuable antiques, which is why our auctions attract the world’s pre-eminent museums and collectors. For centuries, Maine has served as an epicenter for shipbuilding and maritime trade, and a retreat for the rich and the famous, like the Rockefellers, Fords, and Astors, and inspiration for artists like Winslow Homer and the Wyeths. All this activity put a lot of valuables into circulation, and thanks to Yankee frugality, much of it has been preserved for generations.

Thomaston Place Auction Galleries,
51 Atlantic Hwy., Thomaston.

> Four major live/online auctions plus online-only and specialty auctions.

> Free Appraisal Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to noon, and 1:30 to 4 p.m.

1781 silk-on-canvas sampler
This 1781 silk-on-canvas sampler came in to Thomaston Place Auction Galleries on a free appraisal day. It sold at auction for $465,000.


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