Special to The Hays Daily News

Occasionally, people ask me when and why I became serious about becoming an antiques appraiser. Well, studying and researching antiques has been a lifetime interest but there was one particular event back in 1978 that motivated me to get real serious about becoming an appraiser of antiques and collectibles.

It happened in the summer while I was out in Denver and had some extra time one afternoon. Back then, there were blocks and blocks of antique stores on a well-traveled street called Broadway. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon and there were only two other people in that particular antique store at that time.

It sounded like one was the store operator and the other man apparently also sold antiques. I recall that I was just beginning to study cut glass and was examining a cut glass bowl. Anyway, I couldn't help but overhear a conversation between the two men, who were talking in another aisle fairly close behind me.

The one man said to the other, "You have quite a few exceptional quality antiques in your store." He then added, "I'm having trouble finding good antiques. Where do you find them?" The other man replied, "Oh, I go out there in western Kansas. Those people don't really know anything about antiques, and I'm getting them for almost nothing." The other man replied, "Let me know when you go out there next time and I'll go with you."

Well, I sensed a vast difference in our perceptions. I'm from out here in western Kansas, and I could almost feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up when he said that. Our people out here are not stupid, but we are sometimes trusting to a fault. I felt like turning around and starting at them but did not have enough presence of mind not to -- at that particular moment. I waited a few minutes before glancing over in their direction.

Anyway, it was that afternoon that I made a quiet, internal promise to my creator that, if he allowed me to study and become one of the most knowledgeable and helpful antique appraisers in our part of the state, I would do my best to get our people informed so that such individuals couldn't take advantage of our people. To make a story of many years short, soon after that, opportunities to start taking the necessary steps and classes to become fully accredited appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers (whom I consider the most creditable in the country) became available to me.

After years of taking their classes, exams and practical experience, that goal was attained in the mid-1990s. I'm now gratefully doing my part of providing those appraisal services and giving informational talks on identifying and valuating antiques and collectibles for those who request these types of services.

I've noticed over the years that people often have so-called "sleeper antiques" (certain antiques that have greatly increased in value) but that significant value increase is unrealized by them. This is particularly true with the elderly. Some have sold rare and valuable "sleeper" antiques for pennies on the dollar when they really needed the money to help pay for their medicine, groceries and housing costs. The real tragedy in those situations is that many were never aware of the added cash they could have had. There is a great need for timely and accurate information.

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.