Recently, the Friends of the Cohoes Public Library were, once again, offered an unexpected fund raising opportunity.  The Manager of the weekend Cohoes Flea Market at 103 Remsen St., in conjunction with a Cohoes City Fall Festival being held on that same main street, had contacted a local antiques dealer and store owner requesting that he conduct an “Antiques Appraisal” session at their storefront.  He agreed on the condition that any funds raised benefit a non-profit or charitable group, specifically the Cohoes Library Friends.

John, a Cohoes Library Friends’ member and volunteer, who manages our Lobby Book Store was approached and asked to help with this project. He had dealt with the dealer in the past regarding more valuable book donations

Advertising was handled by the Cohoes Flea Market Manager and the Friends’ and Book Club publicity person.  With only two weeks’ to go until the event, publicity was mainly in the two local daily and one weekly newspapers, plus flyers at the Flea Market.

The Flea market Manager was very helpful, providing ample space in the middle of the store for the eight foot table, with tablecloth, chairs for the appraiser, helper John, cashier/ticket taker and for the customers too, plus an outlet strip for the dealer’s laptop and magnifying lamp.  She’d also set up another small table nearby with a basket of mums, and seasonal refreshments:  cider, donuts and a Halloween bucket full of candy.

Although advertised at $5.00 per item to be valued, with a limit of three at one time {as the appraiser once had someone bring in eighty paintings to a similar event}, most people brought only one or two of their treasures:  a 1950s girl’s bicycle, signed costume jewelry, a set of three Uncle Wiggly books, a metal charger, a match safe, a scrapbook and a signed 60s Yankee baseball to name a few of the interesting “finds”.  However, as per THAT ever popular PBS show, the condition of the item, no matter how rare, is the most important consideration.  That being said, several items were rather highly valued, namely a Broadside newspaper article on a battle of the War of 1812 and a souvenir bronze table top reproduction of the Arc d’ Triumph.  Overall, the people seemed to be happy just to discover more information about their items, even if the value wasn’t all they’d hoped it would be.

Our two hour appraisal saw a steady stream of people bringing their total of twenty items to be appraised.  Customers patiently perused the kiosks at the Flea Market and enjoyed the refreshments while awaiting their turn at the table.

With that continued success of that certain show, in all its locations, an antiques appraisal can be quite a lucrative fund raiser with a little effort from a few people and lots of publicity.  One such event, several years earlier that also benefitted the Cohoes Library Friends, was sponsored by a local merchant in a vacant storefront.  The empty space was filled with chairs for the waiting customers and people were directed to the dealer who specialized in their item.   It was very successful both for the appraisers who saw some unusual “finds” and for the Friends.  There was more advanced notice and it was held for an additional two hours.  The addition of a second appraiser – and an opportunity to have metal objects scrapped for cash – at this earlier event likely added to its success.