Traveling antiques show inspires dreams of treasure

Monday, July 29, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Little did Jo Dorsey know what a good investment she was making 25 years ago when she spent $1,800 for a carved cat that was part of a century-old carousel.

Appraisers for the PBS television hit "Antiques Roadshow" told Dorsey during a stop Saturday in Kansas City that the Christmas gift she bought for her mother was worth $35,000 to $45,000.

"It was just a gift, because I like cats," Dorsey said of the feline that was crafted by the Denzel company of Pennsylvania. "I didn't expect this."

Dorsey, of Plattsburg, Mo., was one of about 6,500 people who lugged furniture, paintings, toys, jewelry, old books and more to the Kansas City Convention Center to be appraised by the show's team of experts.

The most expensive item appraised Saturday was a semicircular Baltimore federal games table from the late 1700s that was said to be worth up to $90,000. The table featured a bell flower inlay on the legs and a conch shell inlay on its top.

The owner purchased it for $2,800 from an antique store five years ago, according to a news release from the television show, which did not identify the owner.

"This type of table is rarely seen, if ever," said appraiser Leslie Keno. "They just don't come in like this."

'No masterpieces'

Two of the most valuable items to turn up since the show began broadcasting in America in 1996 are a Navajo chief's blanket worth up to $500,000 (found in Tulsa) and a letter written by Abraham Lincoln worth up to $225,000 (in Atlanta).

Keno's twin brother, Leigh, said there were no major finds like those in Kansas City, however. The Keno brothers enjoy a cult following as regular appraisers on the program

"No masterpieces," said Leigh Keno. "But there have been some very nice things. And you never know when something's going to turn up."

Besides the carousel animal and the games table, several other finds seen in Kansas City were valued in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Appraisers estimated that an American Indian bandolier, or shot pouch, was worth $30,000 to $35,000. It dated to about 1840 from a tribe in Kansas.

And Althea Lestikow of Topeka learned the original oil painting she brought of a harbor in Gloucester, Mass., was valued at $30,000 to $50,000. The painting by Fern Isabel Coppedge, an early 20th-century artist, depicted scenes of the upper Atlantic area.

Lestikow said her aunt had acquired the painting in Topeka, where Coppedge lived for several years while her husband was vice principal at Topeka High School.

"I knew it was valuable, but still I'm very pleased," Lestikow said. "And the appraiser said her works are going up in value a lot."

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