Great to Watch WorthPoint at the American Presidential Experience by Lisa Olken

One of the very best sites at the American Presidential Experience is WorthPoint’s antiques and collectibles booth. Take it from me, a PBS producer; they have the stories to tell and the unique collectibles to back it up!

As my booth is right next door, I have a firsthand look at WorthPoint’s bustling action and unique displays. They have teamed up with the Salvation Army to exhibit an extraordinary collection of gold coins. It so happens that during the 2007 Christmas season, anonymous donors dropped six very expensive gold coins in the Salvation Army red kettles.

To thank these benevolent coin-givers, WorthPoint is co-sponsoring the Salvation Army’s Cool Kids Art Contest where children draw pictures of what giving and generosity means to them. The pictures range from words of “Thank You” to rainbows, flags and people holding hands. The gold coins will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated. WorthPoint is helping the Salvation Army take the coins to auction this October.

There are three Worthologists on hand that happily provide detailed information and interesting stories about antiques and collectibles. One specializes in political and White House memorabilia and is an expert on flags, and the two other Worthologists are generalists. This week, they have evaluated dozens of collectibles from silver-plated eyeglass coins to Civil War memorabilia and an original 1959 John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy signed program brochure . . . to name just a few.

I had an 1863 Louisiana $100 bill, and even though it was only a reproduction, they were happy to provide me with information on where it possibly came from and other fascinating details One woman in line told me that fake money used to be inside cereal boxes—even the people in line are interesting!

The highlight of the WorthPoint booth was speaking with Worthologist Tom Carrier, a vexillologist or flag expert. As this political season heats up, I wanted to know more about political flags. Mr. Carrier happily shared his love of flags and told me that flags represent the communities that created them. Flags are about history, geography and encompass all the social sciences. His flag infatuation began with John F. Kennedy’s funeral. He vividly recalled how his eyes were fixated on the waving presidential flag behind the caisson.

Outdated flags are a highly sought-after collectible. When countries experience coups or geographical border change, when corporations merge or when a new party comes into office, flags change their colors and stripes.

Perhaps the most interesting story Tom Carrier shared was about our own American flag. He said that it was more of an afterthought for the 1777 Continental Congress than a declaration, and there was no provision as to how the alternating stripes and the blue field of stars should look. The American flag was primarily used for official business and was not part of our popular culture until the Civil War. Nowadays, it’s symbol of all things American.

WorthPoint’s antiques and collectibles booth is extraordinary in so many ways. There is their fabulous wealth of knowledge, the Salvation Army gold-coin collection and the children’s drawing contest. There is something for everyone.