After her father passed away, Tamara Becerra took an interest in preserving family heirlooms that had been passed down over many generations.

Though the collectibles have always been a memory of her father and a trip down memory lane, Becerra concedes she’s never really understood the complete back story of where a Colonial Era-style blanket and several Dutch chargers in her possession originated.

“I’ve always been curious about the value of these items,” the Surprise resident said.

Becerra and about 60 other novice collectors discovered those answers and many more Tuesday when they received verbal appraisals and fair market values for their collectibles from a team of five professional appraisers as part of “Trash or Treasure – What’s in Your Closet?” at The Colonnade Recreation Village in Surprise.

Sarah Peters, an appraiser with From the Attic, which specializes in appraisals, estate sales and buy outs, studied the items brought in by the curious Northwest Valley public and said while many pieces exhibited great family significance, they didn’t have any high monetary value like the success stories seen on reality TV shows.

While Becerra believed her brown, intricately designed blanket could’ve originated around the Colonial Era, Peters surmised the piece that clearly had been altered was, at the oldest, from the 1870s or 1880s, though likely from the early 1920s.

At top value, Becerra’s blanket could fetch around $500 locally, according to Peters, a figure that could be more if she was living on the East Coast, where such pieces originated and are better appreciated and valued.

“Tastes change so much,” Peters said of items that are popular and command high money one year and are flops the next. “That’s the joy of textiles, but it certainly affects the value.”

As for the metal Dutch chargers, Peters believed the fanciful designed plates with engravings of children playing and women working were actually English copies from the 1920s to 1940s, worth less than $100, and not originals from the mid to late 1600s.

“They became a popular motif,” Peters said to Becerra about different cultures and societies mimicking fanciful pieces of art. “There has been a long tradition of metal work. It was a Dutch tradition that the English picked up.”

Al Serino has held onto a classical violin in his closet since 1946 that belonged to his father, a classically trained professional who performed in New Jersey during the early 1900s.

“My father died at the young age of 43, and this violin has been with my family ever since,” Serino said. “We’ve never talked about the value. All I know is, what’s the use of letting it sit around?”

The Sun City Festival resident said he believed the string instrument to be a Stradivarius violin, the name of which has become a superlative for excellence due to its unique and highly prized sound quality.

While not an expert in analyzing violins, Peters, however, suggested it was most likely not a Stradivarius from the early 1700s, but rather a Victorian Era violin from the 1880s or early part of the 20th century.

Peters said the violin had design flaws that showed it wasn’t a Stradivarius, but noted the body could be an original of some kind and worth some money. She suggested Serino visit the Musical Instrument Museum near Tatum Boulevard and Loop 101 in northeast Phoenix in order for the museum’s curators to examine the piece.

“If it’s worth more than $100 or $200, then great,” said Serino, who didn’t expect the violin to be worth thousands of dollars. “I’ll probably wind up mounting it on my wall as a keepsake.”

From the Attic can be reached at 480-540-5357 or by visiting

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or

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