Garde, historical society say partnership works well

Trish Czelusniak, right, of Niantic listens while Jennifer London Lacker of J. London Appraisals in Stonington tells her about her painting during the antique appraisals Thursday at the Garde Arts Center in New London. The event was hosted by the New London County Historical Society and the Garde, and was a joint fundraiser for the society and Garde. Czelusniak hoped the painting was by artist John Wiggins, but it could not be confirmed and was appraised for $100 to $200.

New London - Those curious about the value of a grandmother's ring or a sculpture of a brass horse found in the trash stood in line for hours at the Garde Arts Center Thursday to get a professional evaluation of their treasures.

The New London County Historical Society and the Garde teamed up for the antiques appraisal event. It was the first time both nonprofits joined together for an event.

"Like all small nonprofits, it's hard to raise money,'' Nancy Steenburg, president of the historical society, said before the event. "We thought this would be a very affordable event. And fun.''

For the Garde, a restored 1926 Vaudeville theater, the event brought people interested in history into the building.

"The pleasure for us ... is seeing the expression on peoples' faces who have never been inside the theater,'' said Jeanne Sigel, marketing and development director at the Garde. "It just blows them away.''

Just about 100 attended "Priceless?" Sigel said, and one was so impressed with the theater she wants to return and get involved.

"It's about making connections,'' she said.

The historical society brought in seven appraisers with expertise in paintings, jewelry, textiles and Americana art for the event. For $5 per appraisal, participants were able to hear an assessment of their goods and get a dollar amount on what it might be worth.

Items included a piece of antique scrimshaw, an old banjo, samurai swords and a bicycle from the 1950s, with its bell still working. The oldest item may have been a cut-glass salt bowl dating back to 1819, according to Steenburg.

"The collaboration with the Garde was fantastic,'' Steenburg said Friday, adding she hopes there can be more opportunities to work together.

"It's a good partnership,'' Steve Sigel, executive director of the Garde, said. "It let people know who we both are and what we do."


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