Annual antique appraisal fair comes to Butte

Posted September 30, 2019

This story originally appeared in The Montana Standard.  Written by Annie Pentilla.  

The Montana History Foundation wants residents in Butte and surrounding communities to clean out their attics and basements and bring out their tattered books and vintage fur jackets.

That’s because the nonprofit, a charitable foundation that raises money and provides funding for history and preservation projects across Montana, plans to host its third-annual Montana Antiques Appraisal Fair in the Mining City.

The event, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12 and 13, at the Butte Civic Center, is being hosted in collaboration with the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives and will feature appraisers whose faces might seem familiar to TV viewers.

During the fair locals can bring their paintings, textiles, ceramics, photographs, military items and other vintage and antique objects to be appraised. However, attendees will have to leave their guns and rocks at home as participants are asked not to bring firearms or mineral specimens.

The cost for appraisal is $20 per item, and there is a limit of three ticketed appraisal items per person. Spectators can pay a $10 general admission fee to attend.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Friends of the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives and the Montana History Foundation.

Nikole Koefelda, assistant director of the Butte Archives, says this is the third year the Montana History Foundation has put on the annual appraisal fair. Previous events were held in Bozeman and Fort Benton.

As a representative of the Butte Archives, Koefelda knows just how precious family artifacts can be.

She said the archives deals mostly in manuscripts and public records, and each year it receives inquiries from folks wanting to donate their pieces of Butte history, ranging from scrapbooks to church records.

“We’re all a part of the story here, so these are all great items to have to tell that story,” said Koefelda, reflecting on the Butte Archives’ collection.

Koefelda said Butte residents have expressed “quite a bit of interest” in the appraisal fair, so organizers from both nonprofits are looking forward to what residents from Butte and beyond will come up with.

“It’s so exciting. We can’t wait. We have such a rich history here, and people have things that were given to them by their grandparents who immigrated here as young people,” said Koefelda. “Those are the types of items that we can’t wait to see.”

Brian Mogren, who owns Rediscoveries, a vintage clothing, costume and antique store on East Park Street in Uptown Butte, has been selling antiques in the Mining City since the ’90s and says shoppers are often surprised to learn that he sources most of his inventory locally.