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Treasure Or Just Old Stuff

An estimated 2,000 people are expected to bring some of their prized possessions to the Heinz History Center Sunday between 10 and 4 for the 5th annual "Pittsburgh's Hidden Treasures."  The center's president Andy Masich said nearly 50 appraisers will assess the historic significance and monetary value of the visitors' items."

"One of the things we discovered is people have old stuff, antiques, heirlooms, things hidden in their basements and under their beds, and they want to know more about it."

Masich said people tend to come to Hidden Treasures for two reason including cashing in on valuable items.  "But then there are other people who have absolutely no intention of selling what they have because it's got sentimental value, historical value, family history," Masich said.  "So they really want to find out more about their treasures."

For those who want to keep their treasures, professional conservators from the Smithsonian Institute will be at the Sunday event to provide advice on how to preserve those items. 

Masich said the History Center also benefitted from earlier Hidden Treasures because some visitors have donated items "ranging from a Pittsburgh-made toilet from the 1890's to works of art."  He said that one of the most valuable items brought in for an appraisal was a painting that a couple found in the basement of a house they bought.  They paid $45,000 for the house.  "They always wondered about that silly painting under the tarpaulin with pigeon droppings on it," Masich said.  "So they hauled it down to the History Center for Hidden Treasures and the appraiser was amazed that it was buy an impressionist artist named Sauder and it was worth $150,000."

According to Masich, popular items that are brought for appraisal include Civil War and presidential memorabilia, antique coins and jewelry, quilts and textiles.