Everyone loves a good story.
And often, the best stories are attached to heirlooms. These items are pssed down from generation to generation, and all the way they cross oceans, survive war and famine, floods and fires.
And quite often, those heirlooms cross path with Gale Pirie. As an accredited personal property appraiser, Pirie has a vast knowledge of history and how they connect with artifacts. She was in Agassiz on Saturday, appraising the treasures brought in by local residents to the Agassiz Harrison Museum.
“My purpose for doing these types of events is trying to make some sort of progress in advancing what I’m doing. I’m very focused on preserving our material heritage in this country,” she said.
Today, everything is discarded and little value is given to objects. But everything from household objects to fine art can offer a connection to the past.
And while she does provide fair market estimates for that cross her path, she says more than anything, people want to know the story behind their heirlooms.
“They want to know the connection between the item and their family,” she said.
And she clearly takes pleasure in learning about the items’ history, too.
She asks very detailed questions of each item, while delicately inspecting for signatures and other identifying marks, as well dents and scratches.
She pores over every piece, admiring it, and asking the history. With her extensive knowledge, Pirie helps the owners fill in the blanks.
“This is an artist I’ve seen before,” she told Robert Mellinger. “It’s a fabulous subject and it’s just fantastic.”
He told her it’s been in his family for over 100 years, and they talked about a price. He also brought in a 19th century bayonet, and a water pipe from 1903.
The water pipe, Pirie said later, is one of the highlights of her day.
Next up, avid antique hunter Marie Turner brings in two items — a framed lithograph and blue pottery platter. The lithograph is something she was drawn to in a local thrift shop, and she recalls paying $10 about eight years ago.
But the mahogany wood frame, and the age of the lithograph is something that caught Pirie’s eye.
“It’s been in that frame since just after the Second World War,” she tells Turner. “And the lithograph, it’s a very precise process as opposed to the modern printing process.”
It’s worth about $200, Pirie said, “pretty good for $10.”
But more importantly, Turner learned a bit more history about a cobalt blue piece of pottery she owns. It was originally a gift from Turner’s grandmother to mother in Ireland, and then passed along to the third generation.
While it’s a beautiful piece, Pirie told her, the Welsh piece was probably produced by a very small pottery shop.
Learning that helped add to the story of an heirloom from Turner’s family. While her mother and grandmother are now gone, a piece of them lives on in this story about the platter.
And that’s a sentimental value you can’t place a price on.