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Tom Bassett (left) appraises an aircraft and ashtray stand made by a World War II prisoner of war out of shell casings and owned by Gary Stade of Lakefield Saturday morning as part of Summerfest in Lakefield. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

What's this worth?

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LAKEFIELD - Carol Horn was curious about a doll she had inherited a number of years ago.

"Since they were here, I figured I'd go check and see what she is. I was just curious," the Lakefield resident said.

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On Saturday, as part of Lakefield's Summerfest celebration, antique appraiser Tom Bassett evaluated items spectators brought to the event.

"I'm always looking for some neat events to bring to the community," said Jackson County Central Community Education Coordinator Pam Grussing. "I've heard in the past the antique appraisers are kind of an opportunity for people to bring some of their heirlooms and treasures from home. They are able to see what they are worth. One lady was saying she doesn't want to sell it, just kind of interested in what it's value is."

That was Horn's goal as well. She wasn't looking to sell her doll.

"I'll keep her," she said. "I have a daughter, so maybe she will want it and I can pass it on to her."

Bassett said many times during his presentation how he liked a good story. For many of the pieces, including Horn's, it was a family treasure.

"I inherited it from my aunt, who passed away," Horn said. "I think she got it when she was a little girl. She kept it in good condition. It has the original hair on it and underneath could have the original dress, I'm not sure. She covered it up to make it nice. The doll's name is Dorothy Linda Mildred. It has teeth, the eyes still open and close on it. It has jointed arms, hands, legs and feet."

Bassett appraised the doll between $300 and $400.

"I figured it was up there," Horn said. "I figured it was higher priced because I don't see dolls like this. I was just kind of curious as to what it was. I keep her in my china closet, so you can look at her, but not touch."

While the Saturday event at the JCC middle school didn't bring a lot of high-priced items, Bassett said the value was in the history.

"I think what I saw today is just items that mean a lot to a lot of people," he said. "I think what I saw today was a lot of family items. That's always neat to see that people do put some value on something that belonged to their parents or grandparents. No matter what dollar figure I give them, it's secondary to the fact that I'm giving them information on that era that it came from and the relative scarcity of that item."

There were a quite a few interesting items during the day, according to Bassett.

"I'm trying to think about what we saw today that was above $500. I saw four or five of those items. It's not always the dollar figures, but level of interest and level of scarcity," Bassett said. "I certainly saw some things today that were very interesting. The gentlemen had the item that had been made by the prisoners of war, who gave it as a gift to one of the guards or one of the people who worked at the prisoners of war camp. That's just kind of a unique thing, you may never see one just like that. So often times it's the story, it's how it was made or created and why it was given, that's of great interest to me and I hope for the people in attendance."

Sitting on stage at the middle school, each person came forward with the items for him to appraise.

"Tom is spending a good five minutes with each person and kind of giving the history of the item and what he feels what it's worth," Grussing said. "He's not buying. He's just appraising the items."

The Lakefield Business Association helped sponsor the event, which was new to Summerfest.

"As of right now, we have 41 people that have brought in items," Grussing said early in the day. However, that number climbed as the event continued.

"We've had about 10 people come to just be here and listen and watch."

Based in Lincoln, Neb., Bassett does one or two shows a month.

"I was an auctioneer for a number of years," he explained. "When I got out of that profession, a lot of bankers and law firms still depended on me to do appraisals for me because they knew Tom Bassett knows his way around antiques and coins. Even though I went on to do two or three other careers, people were still calling me, expecting me to know what their coin collection was worth and what their dishes and silver is worth. I kept going to antique sales and flea markets, so I've kept up my knowledge. Then people started asking me if I would do something like this for their church or the Humane Society, doing good deeds. I found out I can make a few dollars and make an awful lot of people happy and help organizations make some money."

While Bassett was appraising items, the classic car show was going on at the North City Park, while the Girl Scout Pet Show was being held under the tent. The annual parade and main street dedication ceremony also highlighted Summerfest activities.

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.

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