By Joe Earle

Jim Anderson, left, holds his Tiffany vase. Josephine Iodice, right, with her silver-topped vase. The Sandy Springs residents brought the vases to be appraised at the Benson Center.

Josephine Iodice bought the silver-topped red vase back in the 1940s.

“I bought it in a little shop in Albany, N.Y.,” the Sandy Springs resident said. “I have no idea how little I paid for it. It was under $25.”

She has displayed it in her home since. “I’ve loved it,” she said.

But she was curious about its value, she said. “I had an innate feeling it had some value.”

So on July 10, a Saturday, she brought the vase to the Dorothy C. Benson Center for a quick appraisal, in the style of “Antiques Roadshow,” the long-running PBS TV show on which experts find lost treasures among the odd, exotic and just plain old things people bring from their attics.

Iodice was among about 50 people who brought their treasures to the Benson Center, where Atlanta appraiser Vernon G. Abrams examined them. He checked out items from oil paintings to a couple of pairs of antique bifocals and gamely tried to assess their value.

Appraiser Vernon Abrams inspects a clock during the “Antiques Roadshow”-style appraisals at the Dorothy Benson Center.
Appraiser Vernon Abrams inspects a clock during the “Antiques Roadshow”-style appraisals at the Dorothy Benson Center.

Abrams walked around the large meeting room where items were displayed and described each piece as the crowd sat in rapt attention. He wore a microphone and worked the room like a talk-show host, discussing the history of items with their owners as he considered market values. Over a couple of hours, he sized up dozens of items, including picture frames, paintings, cut glass, ceramics, pocket watches, a mechanical bank, a clock, and a couple of old books published in Swedish.

“It’s a nice collection,” he said afterward. He does three or four similar events a year for community groups, so he has learned what to expect.

Iodice, for her part, had no idea what to expect. She’d never had her vase appraised, so when Abrams called her vase “a nice piece” and said, “We’re probably looking at $1,500 for a piece like this,” she was thrilled.

“Oh, gosh,” she said. “What a shock.”

Jim Anderson of Sandy Springs got some good news, too. Abrams confirmed that the small green vase Anderson brought to the appraisal was a Tiffany piece. Anderson inherited the vase from a relative who had bought it at a fundraising auction.

Anderson thought the piece might have come from Tiffany’s studios. “It’s hard for us to tell,” he said. “He can pick it out.”

The value? Abrams estimated it was worth $1,500 to $2,000.

Not everyone hit the jackpot, of course. Becky Brown of Marietta brought in a glass dessert plate from a set she inherited. Abrams didn’t think the pieces were worth more than $5 to $10 each.

Brown wasn’t upset. “I didn’t know anything about them,” she said. “I knew they weren’t worth a lot of money. I just wanted to know more about them.”

Monty Shackelford of Buckhead didn’t hit it big with gold-rimmed bifocals, either. She found them in a barn, she said, and believed they’d belonged to her husband’s grandmother.

Abrams estimated they would be worth no more than $25 apiece. Shackelford wasn’t perturbed. “It was nice to find out what they were worth,” she said.