For 12 years, a bronze horse sculpture sat on a desk in Maureen Lyons' home. On a recent Saturday, she knew it was not to return there.
It was going straight to a safe deposit box after she left Antique Evaluations Saturday at the University of Tampa. The sculpture was by the French impressionist Edgar Degas.
Its value? What once sat on a desk was estimated by professional appraisers to be "easily over one half-million dollars."
Lyons, who collected antiques since she was 17, had bought it at an auction 12 years ago. For the hefty sum of $150.
An appraiser at the event, where appraisers donate their time to review pieces brought by the public, offered to broker it to New York dealers for Lyon.
The Antique Evaluations Saturday are held six times a year as a fundraiser for the Plant Museum in the UT's Plant Hall. Community members pay $5 per item to learn more about their possessions.
"The fun part of this is the people who come in saying 'I know this isn't worth anything' and it turns out to be worth thousands," said jewelry appraiser Barbara Smith.
On Jan. 5, the music room was filled with people with paintings, small pieces of furniture, silver tea sets, crystal and heirlooms they have inherited or unusual pieces found at garage sales. It is like a scene from the TV series "Antiques Roadshow."
That day a woman brought an Edward Henry Potthast painting. The American impressionist was the woman's great, great uncle and the piece had come through the family. The woman, who didn't want her name used, said she and her siblings plan to sell it since it was worth more than $100,000.
"We all have kids in college now. This will sure help," she said.
Garth Drewry, a docent who assists with the process, said, "To get more than one blockbuster at a time like that is exceptional. We usually get one each time."
Mike Smith of New Tampa brought a coffee table that had inlaid ivory. He remembered it in his grandmother's home as a child and had acquired it. He knew his grandfather had been a merchant seaman.
"I was just curious for someone to tell me a little about it," he said, adding he was thinking about selling it because it did not match with any decor in his house.
Nancy Hilbert evaluated it, commenting, "Short tables were not made before the 1920s. All were tall before then. It was made in the Orient somewhere."
She added, "What makes it incredible is the design" and said its value was about $500.
"Don't put it in a closet, use it, display it. It's really beautiful. I wouldn't let it go. I don't think I have seen anything this ornate before," she told him as he lifted the table to go home.