Greendale — Typically, the Greendale Public Library is happy to have at least eight people participate in its adult programs.
But the Antique Appraisal Event with Mark Moran on May 1 drew a much bigger crowd.
Below: Listen to Moran reflect on the real reason people have their heirlooms appraised, unexpected treasures, and the fun of his trade.
"This is the third year we've had Mark visit," said Greendale Library Director Gary Warren Niebuhr. "The whole concept was new to me, and I was a little skeptical the first year, but I didn't know how much fun this was going to be."
Moran is an antique appraiser and an author of dozens of antique reference guides. He travels across the upper Midwest from his home in Iola, Wisconsin, for different programs.
"The response from small towns has just been overwhelming," Moran said as he prepared his table for the event. "I've found that the smaller the town, the bigger the turnout. Many places have turned this into an annual event. People keep coming back, and I see the same faces every year."
Participants filled the seats of the library's conference room, waiting for their items — vases, miniature bicycles, arrowheads — to be appraised.
"Most people don't even care about the value of their antiques," Moran said. "They just want to know if the story behind the family heirloom is true."
Moran calls his presentation "Appraisal as Theater."
"I have more fun than just about anyone at my programs," he said. "There's always something I don't recognize at every program. I'm always learning."
Some participants don't even have items to be appraised, Niebuhr said, but attend just to enjoy the experience.
"Some just come for the entertainment," Niebuhr said. "It's fun to see the different stuff people bring in … but then Mark does magic with it once it's in his hands and makes it very entertaining."