Antique appraisals revive history, memories

About 18 people arrived at the Hubbard County Historical Museum on Saturday to have their family heirlooms evaluated by Ken Stellmacher. The event was a fundraiser for the museum.

Becky Geisen sought a value for an Oriental silk embroidery piece. Stellmacher advised her to talk to an expert in the Twin Cities.
Shannon Geisen/ Park Rapids Enterprise
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Memories of loved ones surfaced as locals sought an appraisal of their treasured antiques.

About 18 people arrived at the Hubbard County Historical Museum on Saturday to have their family heirlooms evaluated by Ken Stellmacher. The event was a fundraiser for the museum.

Appraiser Ken Stellmacher offered his expertise Saturday to determine the values of many heirlooms, like these German wooden dolls from the 1920-1930s (worth about $40 each) and a squeeze box with sheep-skin bellows from the 1900s (worth about $500).
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

With over 20 years of experience, Stellmacher has owned antique shops in Staples and Pine River. He and wife Mary live in Menahga, selling their relics at flea markets, rummage sales and Facebook Marketplace.

Arlene Novak has a photo her mother sitting in the yard playing this banjo, dating from 1920.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Arlene Novak brought her mother’s pristine banjo, dating from 1920.

“She played in bands. She played by ear, mostly. She used to play at old-time dances. She played the accordion, too,” she recalled. “She played The Everly Brothers when I was a teenager.”


“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Stellmacher said. “The condition of it is what’s so wonderful.”

“She taught my dad to chord on the banjo,” Novak recalled.

Beth Krueger wears a tiger eye gemstone ring that once belonged to her father. "We don't know where it was carved or who carved it," she said.
Shannon Geisen/Enterprise

Beth Krueger sought information about a tiger eye ring that she found in her father’s belongings. He served overseas during World War II.

Stellmacher said it wasn’t highly valued, probably about $25-30.

“It was my dad’s. I just found it in his things. I never saw him wear it. It’s just been in a box,” Krueger said.

This three-tiered, roughly 5-foot-tall Sunshine Biscuit display case belonged to LuAnn White's grandfather. It was originally in Pine Haven Resort on Long Lake.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

LuAnn White brought a photo of her three-tiered, roughly 5-foot-tall Sunshine Biscuit display case. Six out of the nine boxes have a glass front.

“My grandpa had it in his shop and tools and nails in it, stuff like that. Then we brought it in and now we store garden stuff in it,” White said. “When it originally came to him, I guess it was in the resort store and had candies and cookies. That’s what it was made for. The Sunshine Biscuit guy would come in his truck and fill it.”

The resort was Pine Haven Resort on Long Lake, owned by Harold and Delpha White.


“It’s in super shape,” Stellmacher said. “From what I’m seeing, you’ve got a heckuva piece there.”

Estimating its value around $1,000 to $1,200, Stellmacher advised White that she might have better luck selling it on the East or West Coast, where there would be more interest.

Bud Parker brought this Austrian silver bowl to the appraisal to show support for the historical museum.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Wanting to support the museum, Bud Parker brought a few historical pieces, like an Austrian silver bowl and a devious-looking tool called sugar snips.

“Sugar used to come in cubes. They used to call it loaf sugar. This is what the Finns and a lot of Europeans used. This is probably from the 1870s,” he explained. “It’s very rare.”

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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