By Bethany Monroe DeBorde, The River Press
From Charlie Russell artwork to Ming dynasty porcelain and Native American artifacts, Saturday’s Antiques Appraisal Fair in Fort Benton drew a wide variety of unique items brought from all over Montana. Organizers initially sold out of appraisal tickets, but the appraisers agreed to stay late, evaluating about 260 items for the public over the course of the day, said Anna Strange, community outreach manager for the Montana History Foundation (MHF).
The most valuable item of the weekend was actually appraised Friday evening. Chief Joseph’s surrender rifle, which is owned by the River and Plains Society and on loan for display at the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center, was appraised at $1.5 to $2 million – and possibly more, said John Turner, executive director of the River and Plains Society. “It is an amazing rifle. Just getting to hold that gun is amazing,” Turner said. “Chief Joseph’s DNA is on that gun.”