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Antiques' true worth is not just monetary

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Mary Alice Weckerly shows the shelf containing the Armstrong County Death/Birth Indec for 1855 through 1905 at the Lankerd-Thomas Genealogical Library. The Questers will raise money for suc projects Saturday. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Kittanning Riverfront Park.
Two pages of the Armstrong County Death/Birth Index which records vital information for those researching family history.

If you've always wondered how old or authentic Grandma's favorite vase is or whether there's a rare baseball card in the collection that survived your mother's cleaning frenzies, then the 14th annual Antiquing Along the Allegheny is the place to be on Saturday.

“If they've got it and it's old, then they should bring it,” said antique appraiser Tim Sweet, who will be available to assess the worth of items from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Sponsored by the Kit-Han-Ne Questers, the antique show is free to the public and will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the southern end of Riverfront Park, Kittanning.

“The atmosphere is right,” Sweet said. “The location along the river is great. I think that Kittanning is such a pleasant, picturesque community.”

Sweet, an assistant professor in the Entrepreneurship Program at Grove City College, has given his expertise to the Questers group the past three years. Five dollars is asked for each item that is appraised.

Sweet sees the worth of items, not only from a monetary standpoint, but from the perception of their intrinsic worth — what they mean to the owner. “These are the artifacts of your personal history,” he says. “If you don't make the effort to preserve them, then one day, they will be gone.”

Preserving “memorials and historic buildings” is the goal of the Questers, an international organization. Rovena Chauvaux, a member of the chapter for more than 40 years, said, “We cannot keep our money — it is all committed to preservation projects.”

Because of the vast membership, chapters can apply for grant money from the larger group.

The Kit-Han-Ne Questers began in 1968. The first meeting was hosted by Shirley Stennett, who has been active in it ever since.

“We hold meetings in members' homes, so our group size is held to about 20,” she said.

In Stennett's chapter, as well as the Nellie Bly Chapter, also based in Kittanning, the regular monthly meetings include the presentation of a report of the findings of research that's been done by a particular member on a particular antique or other historical topic.

Miriam Walter has been distinguished at the international level, earning the Founder's Award for the second consecutive year for outstanding research and writing.

“This is an active, fun group,” says Joie Pryde. “I've gained tremendous knowledge from these women themselves and from the information that they've shared.”

Anne Pepling, a member of the Nellie Bly Chapter, adds, “It's all about history — history, and sharing it.”

Among the group's service projects are improvements at the Armstrong Historical Society's McCain House museum as well as the Mildred Lankard Thomas Genealogical Library.

Quester contribution is evident in the newly restored portraits of county judges displayed in the courthouse.

This group restored the Old Stone Tavern in Worthington and operated it as a historic site open to the public for 10 years.

In addition to Sweet's services at Saturday's event, antiques and crafts of various times and periods will be available to purchase from vendors.

Everything from Fiestaware to Civil War sabers could show up for sale.

Sweet encourages residents to scour their attics and basements, as well as nooks and crannies in between for possible hidden treasure to bring in for appraisal.

Items that are considered to be popular among collectors include early glass and pottery, old paper items and political memorabilia.

Sweet said silver is a sought-after commodity. “The price of antiques in general is affected by the value of precious metals,” he says. “Silver seems to be making a comeback.”

The Questers would like local ladies to come back, too. Both Kittanning chapters welcome new members.

Stennett, an original Quester, who also serves as a western representative in Pennsylvania, encourages women to consider starting their own chapter, too. “You have to have eight to 12 members to charter a group, but it's easy to do.”

Stennett says, “Questers has made me aware of so much more of history. I've made many, many good friends through the group, too.”

So, if the motto “It's fun to search and a joy to find” resonates with you, look no further.

Diane Orris Acerni is a correspondent for the Leader Times.

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