Friday, May 23, 2014

High School Yearbooks

Do you still have your high school yearbooks? Where are they now: in the attic or basement?  When was the last time you looked at them? Are you still in touch with any of those friends you made during your high school years?  

Do you remember when you first got your yearbook how you scanned every page to see how many pictures there were of you? As I look through my book it made be recall how I missed out on a lot of extracurricular activities, even though I remember participating. In fact, the only club I belonged too, my picture was cut out. Go figure. 

Your yearbook provides a plethora of information about the life you led during your school years. The photographs pretty much tell the story, but also the personal autographs everyone hustled to get as soon as the year books were distributed. Remember rushing about between classes, at lunch, before and after school? And why were they so important? I even remember the process being a bit of a competition. Who can get the most autographs. And why was it so important that the corners of the pages be the place to write those words of good luck and best wishes? I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as your friends cared enough to write some last words to you.    

Keith’s Senior Picture Stats: Basketball 1,2,3,4; Cross Country 3; Hall Monitor 4; Homecoming Committee 3; Intramural 1,2,3,4; National Honor Society 3,4; Prom Committee 3
Keith’s Autographs:
Keith, It was fun in College Prep – even though you did cut me down all the time! Good Luck! Love, Char Jo

Keith, You’re the best d _ _ _ (you said dirty) hall monitor around. I’ll never forgive you for snitching on me – just because I threw your book in the garbage can – Well anyway – Luck! Friends Always, Joyce Mitchell ‘68

Dear Keith, To one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. I wish you luck at school and in your live forever. Just stay as sweet as you are now. Love Always, Deb
To Keith, One of the greatest basketball players I know. Duschean

Lizzie’s Senior Picture Stats: F.H.A. (Future Homemakers of America) 1; F.B.L.A. Future Business Leaders of America) 3,4
Lizzie’s Autographs:     
Liz, It sure was nice having you in shorthand class even if you never had an eraser or any typing paper. Good luck always in everything you do. Be god this summer but still have fun!! Love ya, Mary '68. 
Liz, I would like to think of something different to say but all I can think of is that you’re a wonderful girl with lots of laughs and I hope you never change. There is far to few people like you around. Hope we do get together soon, and I’m sure we will. Good Luck in the future and may you never stop smiling. (Besides you have sexy teeth). Right? Right! Love Jerry
Liz, You certainly are very talented in the dance area and I hope you continue with it after school. I hope the future brings you all the happiness and success in the world. Miss VanDeWalle
Liz, You are my finest dance student and I really enjoyed having you in class. Best wishes in the future especially modeling. I’ll be looking for you in Vogue. Mrs. Robison

Your yearbooks, not just from High School, but grade, junior, college, etc., should go into your family museum, along with your class pictures and class ring, any trophies or awards you received, and any other item that will make it fun to recall those glory days of education. Share it all with family and friends and remember the good times!

Note: From the same people who made the class rings pictures in the previous post, offer a fabulous history of the yearbook. Check it out.

Same goes from the people at Titled, “About U.S. School Yearbooks,” it is an indexed collection of middle, junior, high school and college yearbooks from across the United States. Their take on how a yearbook relates to ancestry (genealogical research) is this: yearbooks are a source of many details, especially when you are searching for names and dates, times and places, what you/they looked like, even world events, fads, and pop culture.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

High School Class Rings & Senior Class Trips

The Class Ring (also known as a graduation, graduate, senior or grad ring) is a ring worn by students and alumni to commemorate their graduation, generally from a high school, college or university.

From the Complete Book of Etiquette by Amy Vanderbilt, the protocol for wearing of a class ring read: For as long as the wearer is in school, the insignia should face the wearer to remind him/her of the goal of graduation. Upon graduation, the class ring gains the status of a "badge of honor," similar to a diploma.  Graduation entitles the wearer to display the insignia facing outward so that it faces other viewers. During school, the focus is on self-development and academic goals; upon graduation, they enter the wider world and put what was learned to work in shaping  it.

A notable exception to this protocol is the custom to wear the rings on the left hand in observance of the ancient belief, which also underlay the Anglo-American and Jewish custom of wearing wedding bands on the left hand, that a vein connects the left finger to the heart.

This history is interesting, but what is more notable is how the ring was used in announcing that you were “going steady!” Remember that? When a gal and guy professed their love for each other, they gave one another their class ring. (An exception here is if there was an age gap . . . the guy was a junior or senior and the gal was a freshman or sophomore, which meant they did not have class rings yet). The guy would usually wear it on a chain around his neck because the ring was too small for his finger. The gal used several creative ways to wear the large ring. Most popular way was to wrap yarn (colors varied) around the back of the ring to make it fit on her finger. I can’t tell you how many gals I saw wearing this humongous ring on their tiny hand.  And the ring would clunk against the desk, and the yarn would look terrible when it got wet.

I also remember witnessing volatile confrontations between the steady couple, when she would hank the ring off her finger and throw it at the most likely stunned guy. I wonder who took off the yarn. Mom, probably did. 

When I was researching the history on class rings, I was sadden to read how many sources there are to help you get rid of your ring. Need money? Find out how much gold is in the ring, minus the stone, which apparently does not have much worth. Why would anyone want to sell their class ring, especially if it isn’t going to result in a monetary windfall. This situation is what this blog is all about . . . preserving your history. And what better item can you name that represents a major time in your life where you can still recall both the good and bad experiences that shaped your life. Why not wear it one day and see how many conversations get started. If it doesn’t fit, like mine doesn’t, wear it on a chain or bracelet. Or just put it in your family museum, next to the yearbook and graduation picture.
                                    The Class Trip (also known as the Senior Trip.)

Tried as I might, I could not remember where I took my Senior Class Trip to. All I could recall was some sort of beach and small amusement park. Living in Illinois, there were many lakes, so I knew it had to be one of them. As I write this blog, I constantly consult  my husband Keith. He seems to remember things I don’t. So I asked him and he knew right away. It was Bass Lake in Indiana. “How did you know that?” Laughing he says, “We went there several years ago.” Stunned, I asked, “When?” Shaking his head at my memory loss, he replied, “Don’t you remember when we all went up to see my cousin Paul and his family who have a cabin at that lake?”  “Yes, but I don’t remember the amusement park being there.” He continued, “Paul said it was torn down years ago. He pointed out the area from his boat and you said you remembered it.” “Well, by gosh by golly. I did, and then I started to remember the trip, and know why I forgot about it. I didn’t have an exceptional good time. It was hot, the water was cold, and I wasn’t particularly fond of paddle boats and rides. Most of all, I remember not having a boyfriend to enjoy this trip with me like most of the other gals did. Oh well, C’st la vie!
Then I asked Keith if he went on a senior class trip. “Nope. Can’t recall that we even had one.”
Things had certainly changed a lot from the class trips of yore compared to today. Our daughter, Tiffeni, graduated in 1988. Her class was very small since it was a private school in Florida. Back then, Disney World hosted Senior Class Trip events for all the high schools in Florida for one night in June. She recalls the park closed early for the graduates, who then had the run of the place. She said she had a ball. Or son, Charlie, had an exceptional class trip as well. He was a Distant Learning Student with a school in California. The Graduation ceremony with a Prom the night before was at the school, so we all flew out there from Virginia. Being that Charlie did not know any of the other students, his sister was his prom date. They had a blast.

Class rings and class trips commemorate more than the end of the most influential four years in a person’s life. The material ring perhaps can still be worn and the class trip memories recalled. Both should have a place in your family museum; the ring on display with your senior class picture and maybe a scrapbook with photos of the class trip. Again, these need to be preserved and handed down. And what fun you will have recalling these milestones in your live.

Do you still have your class ring and remember your senior class trip? I hope so.

Next Post:  Yearbooks


Monday, May 19, 2014

Going to the Prom

In the early days of high school proms, the night time dance served a similar function to a debutante ball. Early proms were times of first: the first adult social event for teenagers; the first time taking the family car out after dark; the first real dress-up affair; and so forth. Proms (promenade) also served as a heavily-documented milestone in which the participants were taking an important step into a new stage in their lives.  

Proms worked their way down incrementally from college gatherings to high school extravaganzas. In the early 1900s, prom was a simple tea dance where high school seniors wore their Sunday best. In the 1920s and 1930s, prom expanded into an annual class banquet where students wore party clothes and danced afterward. As Americans gained more money and leisure time in the 1950s, proms became more extravagant and elaborate, bearing similarity to today’s proms. The high school gym may have been an acceptable setting for sophomore dances (sock- hops), but junior prom and senior balls gradually moved to hotel ballrooms and country clubs. These days’ limousines have become compulsory for the event.

Competition blossomed, as teens strove to have the best dress, the best mode of transportation, and the best looking date. Competition for the prom court also intensified, as the designation of “prom queen” became an important distinction of popularity. In a way, prom became the pinnacle event of a high school student’s life.

My husband Keith and I graduated high school in 1968 but from different schools.  When I asked him if he went to his senior prom, he emphatically replied, “No!”  I had already known this as we have been married 44 years, but it was fun to ask him again. “Why,” I teased. “Money! Why would I spend my hard-earned money on a girl I didn’t know or care to know?” His response still surprises me because he was the “all-time campus great guy . . . Varsity Basketball Player of the Year, Honor Student, and darn right handsome. Even his best friend tried to convince him to go as a double-date. His snarky reply, “Ah, right. You and her up in the front seat necking like crazy and me sitting in the back seat with some girl I did not want to kiss or anything else! Forget about it!” Having gotten this off his chest once again, he said, “Now if I had known you then, I would have taken you to the prom.” How sweet.

My high school was small by today’s standards. My graduating class had less than 300 students. It was a very traditional high school. Perhaps this is not a common lexicon to use regarding schools. The reason I say this is because all the seniors received a very formal invitation from the Junior Class. It stated,

“The Junior Class of Lincoln-Way Community High School requests the pleasure of your company at the Junior-Senior Prom, Friday, the twenty-fourth of May at eight-thirty in the evening at the Chateau Bu-Sche in Oak Lawn, Illinois.”      

Wow! A formal invitation sent to me! It came in the mail and even had a smaller card in the envelope. Obviously it was not an R.S.V.P. card because I still have it. Never-the-less, it was quite something and impressive. I wonder if high schools today send out such lavish invitations. 

Prom day was looming in fast and I waited until the last minute to be asked, but alas, I was not. So when push came to shove, I asked Don, a nice guy, very shy, but sweet as could be. He wore a white tuxedo, looking as uncomfortable as I am sure he felt. He presented me with the corsage; I pinned the boutonniere on his lapel. I can recall how he shook with nervousness.

My mother picked out my prom dress. I did not like the color (brown) but the style was in. A straight sleeveless crepe dress with a high-neck jeweled collar. I was really crazy about the shoes. They were a shiny brown patent with stack Lucite heels. Cool! A small clutch of some kind and not much jewelry. Pierced ears were not of the fashion yet, but bouffant hairdos where. All decked out, ready to go, but I can’t remember how we got there, but we did.  

The prom was quite extravagant. Being that my high school was located in the land of farms and start of suburban sprawl. The majority of students were from farming families and sophistication was not a strong trait among the masses. So to have the prom at a swanky dinner club (remember those) and in a populated suburban area, it was quite special. Most of the dating couples came by motor caravan driven by parents and chaperone's. After being dropped off at the entrance, we were escorted to the tables, beautifully decorated with flowers. A program described the menu, evening activities (Welcome, Invocation, even a skit and farewell) letting us know what to expect that evening. We danced to The Buddy Everette Orchestra. No disc jockey. The only disc jockeys known at the time were on the radio. Though I can’t remember what they played, I’m sure it was the music of the day. On the table there was also a tiny red-velvet tasseled booklet that served as a keepsake. The theme of the prom was . . .
                  “Moonlight and Roses 1968”
Inside the booklet was listed the class officers, coordinators, sponsors, chaperone's and honored guests. In the back was a poem. It read:

Moon-light and Roses, 
Bring wonderful mem’ries of you.  
My heart reposes, In beautiful thoughts so true.      
June light discloses, Love’s olden dreams sparkling a new. Moon-light and Roses, Bring me mem’ries of you.”

Do you remember your senior prom? Share if you do.  

Next Post:  Class Trips & Class Rings

Friday, May 16, 2014

China & Porcelain

How many times when you were a child did you hear, "Don't touch that!" or "Be extra careful when you dust that!" or this one, "Don't run through the house. Certain things could fall and you will be in a lot of trouble if they do!"

Vases on the hall table, plates hanging on the wall, statues on the piano, fancy candy dish on the coffee table. I grew up with these things as many of you have, too. Some were passed down to me, others I collected myself. Do you have pieces of fine china, porcelain and glass in your home? I like displaying these items, therefore, I do not have them in my family museum. And as I dust them for the millionth time (maybe not quite that many) I can still hear, “Be careful with that. It was your grandmother’s. And in this case, this vase actually was. My nana, Elisabetha, bought the Nippon vase in 1920. It proudly sat on the dining room table for years. When she passed away, my mother took possession of it. She, too, proudly displayed it in the living room. As a child I never sought to know anything about it except that it was old and pretty. Then one day, it almost met its demise, but survived the fall, big and small chunks strewed about the room. I can still remember watching my dad sitting at the kitchen table, painstakingly gluing the vase back together. Now I have it and the vase still reigns supreme, but this time it sits high on top the dining room china cabinet, bruised but still beautiful.

The important thing about collecting china and porcelain is to first, cherish the ones you have, not only when they are on display, but in a preservation mode; pictures and written documentation. Analysis the characteristics of the piece. The material of which it is made, how the image is put on the piece, and importantly, its mark on the bottom. Some pieces may not have one, but that does not mean it is of lesser value. But for serious collectors, those marks are extremely important. To assist you in determining those marks, please visit this website:  It is a fantastic guide to antique pottery marks, porcelain marks and china marks.

An example of a china mark is this one:  Nippon China. Nippon era began in 1891 when the Japanese porcelain was clearly marked "Nippon" due to the McKinley Tariff Act. This act required that all porcelain be marked with the country of origin.  ("Nippon" literally translates to "Japan".) This porcelain was made specifically to be exported to the west with designs and patterns that suited Americans tastes. At that time, Japan had a thriving porcelain industry using methods used in Europe and the United States.
The Japanese items were less expensive than pieces coming from Europe and became very popular in the U.S. The porcelain was sold in gift shops, dime stores, fairs and even at the local grocery. Nippon items were also sold by Montgomery Ward, Sears & Roebuck, mail order houses and other department stores.
In 1921 the United States government changed its position and required that Japanese imports no longer be marked “Nippon,” but with, “Japan.” This marks the end of the Nippon era. 
I started collection pieces of Nippon after a dear friend introduced me to the fine china. I was mesmerized. Every piece was exquisitely made and the artwork was beautiful. What captivated me more was that I could find this fabulous china at yard sales. I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to sell them and at pennies on the dollar. I guess that old adage, “One’s man’s junk is another’s treasurers.”
So, I started to collect Nippon, making sure each piece was made before 1921, and by time I finished buying my last piece, I amassed over a dozen pieces, each and every one precious. Again, there is so much I can write upon Nippon but I’d rather offer you an expert website that covers everything you want to know about Nippon. It is,
 International Nippon Collectors Club

Do you ever question, "Is there a difference between things made in China and  made in Japan?”  Answer is Yes! Just about everything used to be made in Japan? TVs, VCRs, Microwaves, etc. However, in recent years many of these companies have shifted their production centers to China to save money. So even though the company itself is Japanese, many components or even whole units are made in China.
Just so that you know, Chinese porcelain originated in China, dating from the  Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC. Exported Chinese porcelains were held in such great esteem in Europe that in the English language china became a commonly used synonym for the Franco-Italian term porcelain. I would imagine that items of this caliber of china and porcelain are in grand museums. That is not to say that the china and porcelain items we own are inferior, their value is determined by individual tastes, hence worth.  

So what kind of china and porcelain do you collect? Other than the Nippon listed above, here are a few other types of collectibles that are in my home:

I have collected many Lladros over the years. Many were given as tokens of love and for special occasions. I love my Lladros and when Keith and I were fortunate to travel to Madrid, Spain, I went into several Lladro Galleries and was flabbergasted at the variety and size of statues available for sale. These artistic creations take your breath away. There is so much to tell about Lladro that it would take up this whole blog. Therefore, please take some time a visit their website and see for yourself how beautiful is this art form.  

Two of my favorite figurines are of this Colonial Man & Woman, coyly flirting with each other. On the man's base is the signature of Carlo Mollica.  It took me a while to research the name, but when I found it, the information said the figurines were made by one of the oldest and most collectible of ceramics factories in Italy.

The male figurine bears the symbol of Carlo Mollica (C. Mollica). The Mollica factory began in 1880 in Naples. It moved to Milan in 1942. Between 1950 and 1970 the factory reached its zenith of popularity under the leadership of Carlo Mollica. During this period Mollica produced artwork equal to the finest made throughout Italy. The factory produced a wide range of products from classical Capodimonte to Lenci-like Art Nouveau. Mollica ceased operation in 1978. Walter Del Pellegrino, author of Italian Pottery Marks from Cantagalli to Fornasetti, 1850-1950.   

Many years ago, Keith and I gave this statue of a Blue Jay to his parents for an anniversary. It sat on top of their TV set for years. Before his mother passed away, she gave it back to us. It now shares the top of an antique dresser with the Canaries.  Both of these bisque figurines were made by Andrea by Sadek, also known as Charles Sadek Import Company or J. Willfred,  headquartered in New Rochelle, New York. The company was founded in 1936 by Charles and Norman Sadek and is still owned and operated by the Sadek family.
 Another Andrea by Sadek is a white Bisque Compote Dish with three cherubs and two candlesticks each with a cherub. Circa 1965? This piece gives me the heebie-jeebies every  time I pick it up to move it. So it has been sitting on the small silverware chest for years. But in order to get to the silverware in the top drawer, I have to pick up the compote. Oh dear me!
There are many more wonderful pieces of china and porcelain that adorn our home, but there is no way I could include them all in the blog. However, last but not least, is this pair of Civil War Soldiers. As our residence is within walking distance of the site of the Battle of Williamsburg’s, “Emory’s Failed Advance; 1862 Peninsula Campaign,” it seemed compelling to display these statues.  Years ago, Keith was given this pair to use as examples made by Woodmere China, when he use to rep for them.

Woodmere created porcelain dinnerware with American history designs, many of which are museum-quality pieces. Its products have served as distinctive gifts for presidents, heads of state and dignitaries. After more than three decades, the business at 2618 W. State St.  stopped production, attributing the closing to a shrinking customer base because of the economy. Steelite International acquired the Woodmere China on   October 19, 2013.
In conclusion, remember that China is delicate, fragile and easily broken.  Where ever you display your fine pieces, to make sure they stay steady in its place, unmovable from all kinds of actions that cause it injury or possible demise, consider using what I had recommended in the March 24 post:
“Museum Gel” to secure your pieces. Use it on shelves, walls, tables, etc., anywhere and everywhere the item may be vulnerable. 
Most of all, enjoy your collections. They say a lot about you and your home. Always surround you and your family with as much beauty as you can.
Next Post:   Going to the Prom



Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother Day Memories

There is an in-depth article about the history of Mother’s Day from the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia that explains how and why there is a holiday that celebrates mothers and motherhood. If you want to find out all there is about this cherished holiday, take the time to read it. I could not add any more to this offering, therefore, I am going to share with you my stories about the Mother’s Day’s celebrated in our family with a few of the many gifts and cards given and received throughout the  years. 

My foray into motherhood happened (at this writing) 44 years, 8 months and 14 days ago when our daughter, Tiffeni Jeanne was born on April 28, 1970. Before that special day, I had the traditional Baby Shower hosted by relatives and friends. I saved the invitation along with an assortment of gift cards. When I found these wonderful memoires, I could have transported myself back in time to that day. I could feel the excitement of opening the gifts and reacting to the tiny items lovingly wrapped and presented. I can recall seeing the faces of those who gave the gifts, their anticipation if I liked it or not. Of course, I liked them all. I cherished them now and luckily still can, because I preserved some of the baby clothes, toys, books, and pictures and a few are on display now in our children’s museum.

What really had me intrigued as I rummaged through the card box labeled Lizzie, I found an eclectic assortment of papers (hospital & doctors paid invoices, pictures, cards, a pressed flower – its fragile petals and leaves turned yellow, and a list of names, and one big curl of Tiffeni’s baby hair), all stuffed into a tiny book with a pink cover showing a picture of a very pregnant momma bear. The book’s title, “EXPECTING?” Nursery rhymes for pregnant times, written and illustrated by Dolli Tingle, published in 1968. (the price was $1.95).  

I can’t remember if I bought it myself or if it was a gift, but that doesn’t matter. What’s great is that I still have it. I wrote on the first page, My Book when I started and finished writing in it; June 2, 1969 to April 27, 1970.

As small as the book is, it is filled with everything you want to know then and remember now. Such as, IMPORTANT INFO: doctor’s name and number, hospital, what to take there, and many pages of do’s & don’ts, such as WHAT DOC SAYS I SHOULD EAT. He said, “eat anything I pleased, but then he said, “lay off the salt” the last weeks of the pregnancy. A list of WHAT I CRAVE! chocolate malts, hamburgers, and onion rings. I’LL KEEP MY WEIGHT DOWN chart, starting at a mere 115 pounds (I was 5’7” tall) with a final weight of 154 pounds. Not good!

There was a page for BOY’S NAMES WE LIKE BEST. (Back then the sex of the baby was not known until birth). There must have been an omen present when we picked the name Charles, for he came 17 years after Tiffeni. (Future story there). GIRL’S NAMES WE LIKE BEST didn’t include the one we chose. Listed first were my picks: Gigi (loved the movie) April (she was born in April) Simone (a name I chose for a character in a book I would write in the future). Her papa Keith chose names of old girl friends (excuse me!) One was Drusilla (oh, please!) The other was Nancy. (Far too old fashion for me). At the bottom of the page is the one we chose: Tiffeni Jeanne. WHY, the book asked. I wrote, “because Tiffany (spelt differently at first) sounded rich . . . ” But there is another story – the one I remember most. As I was sitting in my hospital room listening to the radio, the announcer told a brief news story about a woman who was thrilled to have found her missing cat, named Tiffany. (I like cats and I felt happy that the lady found hers.) . . . “and I liked the song, Jean (very popular back then; written and sung by Rod McKuen for the Broadway play, “Oliver” in 1969).  (watch & listen to this beautiful song on YouTube)
“Jean, Jean, roses are red, All the leaves have gone green, And the clouds are so low, You can touch them, and so, Come out to the meadow, Jean.”

When I entered the hospital on a very cold and rainy day, I recall looking out of my window and how it rained every day I was there, seven days total because I was very ill. On the day before I went home I was able to walk to the end of the hall and look out the window. It was still raining. The next day I went home and when I finally stepped outside into the fresh air, it was spring. Spring had sprung while I was in the hospital. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see the trees green leaves, the clouds puffy white and the many flowers by the roadside as we drove home. Then the song came on the radio and after listening to the words, I knew at that moment, Tiffeni’s middle name was Jean.  

Back to the book. There was a LAYETTE page. Checked off were all the things I must have received at the baby shower. Next page titled, KEEPING IN TRIM,” I wrote, “did a lot of walking the first 5 months because I was working.” I was a private secretary to the president of a marine insurance company. I loved my job, but I was not doing well the last month of the pregnancy, so I had to quit. I remember being very upset. To cheer me up, my mother gave me a little party. (That’s what mother’s do). 

Next where 3 pages to list GIFTS. I filled in a page and a half. The last page, NOTES On what happened tells a very concise story of the difficult birth. I must have written this months after because it reads emotionally unaffected. Perhaps I only wanted to record the facts and leave the pain out of those last words. But the little book’s story happily ends with these words, “We both went home together.” The End.

The moral of the story is, and keeping with the theme of the Blog is this: like all things precious, Mother's Days memorabilia must and should be kept alive, either by preserving the object or retelling a story. Mother’s Day memories are perfect for your family museum, no matter how you preserve them.



Next Posts:  more on antiques

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jewelry Collecting

Where does one begin on the topic of jewelry?
From the simple shell beads worn by Paleolithic hunters, to the history of jewelry design from the exquisite early medieval pieces and the splendor of Renaissance
gold work, to the sumptuousness of Art Nouveau enamels and Art Nouveau
periods, jewelry throughout the twentieth-century and right up to the present,
the development of jewelry is a fascinating history.

I personally enjoy looking at sparkling diamonds, swoon when staring at rubies and opals, thrill at art deco and art Nouveau designs, and harbor a hint of envy when I look at those fortunate to wear fine jewels. But alas, I am but a commoner when it comes to jewelry. I do not own bejeweled brooches, pendants, earrings, and tiaras (do possess a costume version of a tiara – will tell the story behind that later), that encompass beauty and technical virtuosity, but I do have few fine pieces that I dearly love and sincerely treasure. Here are a few of my coveted pieces I displayed in a shadow box:
* My first gold (plated) bracelet
* A Minnie (not Mickey) Watch (band long gone)
* Popular in the 1980s, a gold charm holder w/tiny
   icons of affection
* Brass plate engraved with Keith’s (hubby) name 
* Sterling Silver cuff bracelet from Tiffany
* Olsen European Tours Pin (circa 1972)
* My tiny duck ring & charm bracelet
   (don’t remember wearing either of them)
* My absolutely favorite pin of all time (the ballerina I never became)
* A Garnet Ring (pretended it was a Ruby)  * Souvenir Pin from Paris
* My Father’s Grandfather Ring with the birthstones of his two grandchildren: 
   Diamond for Tiffeni & Alexandrite for Charlie)
* Ivory ring Keith brought home from one of his Naval Duties
* “Pet Rock” pendent (1970s craze),
* My first watch (a grade school graduation gift)

I have other pieces of jewelry I have saved over the year, my favorite is my
“Charm Bracelet.” (I will post in-depth on this subject soon). But the one piece
I have that has a story to tell is this one:
Starburst Diamond Ring or Princess Ring

Measuring 1” from top to bottom and from left to right, rounded square in shape, it has 32/2-diamond prongs with a total of 64 diamonds of same size diamonds plus 2 top diamonds of larger size, totaling one full Karat.  The diamonds appear to be a slender, rectangular baguette cut. The two top accent stones in the central are larger and brilliant-cut. Craftsmanship excellent.
As the rings’ facets are rectilinear and arranged parallel to the setting, the diamonds are known as step cut stones, popular in the Art Deco period. The symmetrical arrangement of facets is well proportioned. There is a jeweler’s mark and some initials engraved into the 14K white gold band.  
I purchased the ring from at an estate auction and proudly worn it since. I marvel at the stares it gets and enjoy answering the questions I’m asked. “Are those diamonds real?” “How many karats?” “Can I try it on?”  

Then one evening while watching our local PBS station, a new program was seeking participants who had antiques they would like to have appraised on live TV on a new show called, “Virginia Valuables.”  In the style of “Antiques Roadshow,” guests were paired with local appraisers and their treasures – all while the cameras rolled – captured the owner’s joy and disappointment as the object was being appraised.
What fun! Or was it? 

In order to get on the show, you were required to send in pictures of your antiques.
It could be art, furniture, jewelry, clothing, etc. I thought it would be fun so I sent in pictures of several of my antiques, one of which was the ring.

Guests on the program were identified through the Community Idea Stations Appraisal Fair, hosted at the station over two days in September 2011. From more than 370 entries, 50 were chosen to meet the appraisers.

When I got the call (I was at a grocery store) they told me they were interested in one      
of my offerings. I was thrilled, but was really surprised when they picked the ‘ring.’
“Why,” I asked. 
They said it was certainly a glamorous ring and felt it would look great on the show. 
So my daughter and I drove to Richmond from Williamsburg, over an hours drive. (Would have gotten there sooner but got lost.) Once there, we were ushered into the       studio and to wait my turn. Meanwhile, we watched two other presenters which              gave me a good idea as to what to expect. Now it was my turn!
I had been on live television before and knew what to expect. Calm and inquisitive, I let the appraiser do his job.

With the powerful lights focused on the ring, it sparkled so that even Elizabeth Taylor would have been proud to be its owner. As he talked, he closely examined the ring.    
With his jewelers eye (magnifying tool) he offered a rather cunning smile. I had a suspicion that he was going to devalue it somehow. After all, the show, likes its sister show, enjoys creating tension leading to the moment when they say, “Well . . . he said,”
“Due to the current vogue for brilliant and brilliant-like cuts, step cut diamonds may       suffer somewhat in value. Stones that are deep enough may be re-cut into shapes that are more popular. 
Antique jewelry of the period features step-cut stones prominently and there is a market in producing new step-cut stones to repair antique jewelry or to reproduce it.”
He called it a PRINCESS RING. With its 14K White Gold, one full Karat & excellent craftsmanship, circa 1960, his appraisal result at auction today, could have a auction bid of $900. I purchased the ring for $800 in 1981.
(You would thing a ring so unusual would have gain in value . . .)
Seeing the shock on my face, which the camera and crew loved (perfect for the audience),  he explained that the low appraisal was due to the recession.
(I don’t think so . . .)
I am sure I am missing some details of this event, but for what it was worth, the experience was interesting and now I know how those people on Antiques Road Show, even those who show their things on the new pawn shop show, feel. And if you should have a similar experience and are not satisfied with the outcome, get another appraisal.

This taping aired on Monday, November 28, at 8:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS.
The tagline for "Virginia Valuables" read; "a one-hour special where Virginia residents discovered if their treasures had more than just sentimental value."  
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