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CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – A week after residents sought hidden gems in art appraisals at the Chappaqua Library, the New Castle Historical Society returned on Tuesday with a focus on toys for the second part of its appraisal series.

John Felz, a certified appraiser and former New York City Police officer, appeared in the library’s theater to offer his expertise to collectors with a lecture and individual appraisals.

Dozens of collectors brought multiple toys to be appraised, ranging from trains, to piggy banks, to dolls and more. Some toys were over a century old and were appraised by Felz to be worth over $1,000.

He was also given the task of informing many residents that their prized fairly heirlooms lacked any real cash value. “Don’t kill the messenger,” said Felz.

Felz said his experience as an officer has sharpened his eye and has made him an expert when it comes to spotting fraud. He spent time in the department specializing in antique art fraud, which he said opened his eyes to how often it occurs.

“A lot of unscrupulous dealers will take an (item), literally bury it in the ground and put acid on it to make it look older,” said Felz. “If your eye is trained, though, you can never fake what happens to yellow and red and white paint after 100, 150 years.”

Felz advised residents that the worst place to store antique toys is in the attic because it’s the hottest area of the house in the summer and the coldest in the winter. One of his clients had a tin train that melted in an attic due to high temperatures.

According to Felz, the advent of eBay has hurt the value of antique toys and has made price catalogs nearly obsolete.

“Prior to the online auctions, if you were a collector, you’d be at the mercy of the seller,” said Felz. “Now, whatever you want is readily available. Anything. And that’s what has brought the market down.”

Felz added that the value of toys usually comes down to the rarity of the item. Old items in mint condition may be hurt in value if the item was mass-produced.

“Most of us were raised to think the longer you hold onto something, the more it’s gonna be worth. My mother used to tell me that,” said Felz. “Sorry Mom, you’re wrong.”

The appraisal series will wrap up at 10 a.m. on Jan. 24 when Chappaqua’s Kent Home owner Michael Kalesti speaks on mid-century furniture.

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