Melissa Davenport's mother, who was an antiques dealer, always kept a worn, bronze flowerpot in the bay window of her Mays Landing home. When Davenport inherited it, she put it on her porch.
Her husband, Albert, often told her to bring it inside, believing the pot to be of value. Still, it remained outside for years.
On a whim, the couple took it to the Hamilton Township Historical Society's first-ever Antique Appraisal Night in 2011, where the pot was valued at $3,000.
"We took it in the house and put it upstairs," Davenport said. "It hasn't had a plant in it since."
On March 20, the community will again have an opportunity to uncover the true value of their hidden treasures - or junk - at the society's Appraisal Night, which will feature Linda Patterson Hinkle, of Aardvark Antiques in Northfield, and Ken Aiscowitz, of Days of Olde Antique Center in Smithville. Appraisals are $5 for the first item and $3 for each additional item, no appointments necessary.
The Antique Appraisal night serves as both a fundraiser to help the Historical Society pay the bills of its museum on Mill Street and a way to raise the society's stature in the community and generate some new membership, fundraising committee member and event planner Cheryl Fetty said.
It's also a fun - and informative - night out for local antiques aficionados and history buffs.
"There's nothing to do in the winter, winter is so blah," Fetty said. "This is just a chance to get out and truthfully, a lot of people come and they just socialize and enjoy being there, meeting up with friends."
While the Davenports' story had a Hollywood ending, few items end up being showstoppers. Mary Beth Fine, of Mays Landing, brought to one of the society's appraisal nights a pistol and two journals that belonged to an ancestor of hers, James Foster, who fought for the Union in the Civil War.
Fine said she thought the items might be of value, but was disappointed to hear the set was worth only about $100. Still, she said, she was glad to find out a bit more about the pieces.
"I thought they would be valuable, but they're not," Fine said. "It's more historic value for my family."
The first of the appraisal nights, held in winter 2011, was a big success for the society. The second, held later that year, was a dud, and the third, held this time last year, fell somewhere in the middle.
With a year between this one and the last, Fetty said, she hopes it will again be a big draw. And while it's unlikely anyone will retire based on their findings, you never know until you try, Fetty said.
"People are happy, and they're not," Fetty said. "It depends on what they bring. We all, none of us really know until (we) have somebody appraise it."
Contact Braden Campbell:
If you go
What: Hamilton Township Historical Society's Antique Appraisal Night
When: 6 to 8 p.m. March 20
Where: Presbyterian Church Annex, 111 Route 50, Mays Landing
How much: $5 for first item, $3 each additional item. Attendance is free.
More info: Call Cheryl at 609-625-1598