Find the worth and history of personal heirlooms

RENSSELAERVILLE — At the Rensselaerville Historical Society’s annual Attic Treasures fundraiser on Sept. 17, visitors will be able to bring in their antique or historical pieces for appraisal by one of a number of featured appraisers. 

“It’s a fun day …,” Russ Carlsen, one of the appraisers who will be at the event, told The Enterprise this week. “Many people have something that belonged to grandma or they had acquired in some peculiar manner, and they’ve always kind of wondered what it’s worth and what it is.”

The other appraisers are:

Ray Carucci, of Vintage, Treasures and Home, in Westerlo, who specializes in general antiques;

— Annie Campo, of Whistling Gypsy in Rensselaerville, who specializes in jewelry; and

— Eric Pedersen of Rensselaerville, who specializes in rare books. 

Carlsen, 73, is formally an auctioneer, operating out of Carlsen Galleries in Freehold in Greene County. He grew up in his parents’ antique shop, and now he specializes in selling 18th- and 19th-century American antiquities, including fine art. 

Having been in business for 40 years, he said, he’s picked up a strong working knowledge “of what things are worth.”

The job of an appraiser, as one might imagine, relies on a lot of research when an object isn’t immediately familiar. 

“If someone brings in an oil painting, well, there’s literally hundreds of thousands of artists painting from the 18th to the 19th to the 20th century,” he said. 

The first judgment, Carlsen explained, is on its overall attractiveness, and “the quality of the workmanship.” 

“But the name in the corner is paramount for an evaluation,” he went on, “and no one knows every artist, so I do the necessary research to find out what that artist might be selling for in the secondary market today.”

When he did the Attic Treasures event last year, Carlsen said, “a lot of material came in that was pretty easy to identify and it was pretty easy to conjure up an estimate.”

A piece that stood out to him was a “very rare needlework sampler.”

“It was a schoolgirl’s sampler, with a townscape sewn in fabric in a tapestry sort of manner,” Carlsen recalled. “It was an ABC sampler, but the fact that it had an entire village done in fabric was really sensational. It was the highlight of the day. So we’re hoping for something like that again. We’re always looking for something rare and important.” 


The Attic Treasures fundraiser will be held at Conkling Hall at 8 Methodist Hill Road in Rensselaerville on Sunday, Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Admission is $10, which includes one free appraisal. Additional appraisals are $5. Those with items to be appraised should register their item in advance at

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