Sometimes I give talks on antiques and collectibles at various social organizations, civic and sometimes church social gatherings. People often ask how I got seriously interested in studying and researching antiques.

That question was addressed at some of the presentations I've given through the years and might be of interest to our general readers.

Antiques and collectibles always have been of general interest to me, but back in the late 1970s, there was one particular situation that started me on a serious study of the subject. It was the middle of a Saturday afternoon while I was in an antique shop on Broadway Street in Denver. It was a pleasant afternoon, and there just happened to be only two individuals in that shop at that particular moment.

The two men were visiting at a couple of tables behind me. Apparently, one was the manager of the shop, and the other sounded as through he was a friend of the manager who ran another antiques store in the general area. The one man said to the other, "You have some really nice things in here. I'm having some trouble finding quality antiques for my store. Where do you find your antiques?"

The other man replied, "Oh, I go out to northwest Kansas. Most people out there don't really know anything about antiques, and I'm getting many items for my store for almost nothing."

The other man's reply was, "Oh really, I would like to go with you next time."

Well, talk about a difference of perspective. I almost could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I was from northwest Kansas, and those are my people who he was talking about. Now, we are not stupid but sometimes are trusting to the point of being at fault.

It was at that moment I made a quiet, internal promise to the good Lord above: If he would enable me to study and become one of the most helpful and knowledgeable antique appraisers in western Kansas, I would do my best to get our people informed so others don't take advantage of them. Well, guess what? He provided me the opportunity to get that training, so my goal continues to be to get that useful information back to our people.

The school district where I taught allowed us two days of personal leave a year. At the start of each school year, the application for my two days of personal leave was on the superintendent's desk and fortunately was approved. Those two weekdays, plus that weekend, enabled me to attend the annual convention of the International Society of Appraisers wherever they met that year in the continental United States. That enabled me each year to attend training sessions under some of the most knowledgeable antique appraisers in the country. Another plus was they always scheduled tours that exhibited the best authentic antiques in their museums and some key collections in private homes in that city. As a result, I got to study antiques in places such as the Smithsonian Institute and the Art Institute of Chicago. I often felt like a kid in a candy factory.

I retired from public school counseling in 1997. Now, my part-time jobs (which are essentially labors of love) include appraising antiques, being a counselor at a home for unwed mothers and a weekly prison ministry.

Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.