Real Estate

Hitting the Mother lode

Stanford Treasure Market offers gems for Cantor fundraiser

As the age-old adage goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Turning this idea on its head is a group of 330 volunteers who put together the biennial Treasure Market on Stanford University's campus.

"The donated treasures go in, we buy them, they go out and then the museum gets to buy new treasures," Lois Sher, co-chair for Treasure Market, said of the event's "treasure in, treasure out" tagline. "It's kind of a fun exchange."

Treasure Market is a three-day fundraiser event to benefit the Cantor Arts Center. Taking place March 28-30 at the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation at Stanford, funds raised allow the museum to purchase new works for displays and exhibits. Since its inception, Treasure Market has raised $3.7 million that the museum has used to purchase more than 1,700 objects.

The event has been running since 1958 when the Committee for Art at Stanford wanted to raise money for the museum. Diane Christensen's mother was one of the founders of the committee. Back then, Treasure Market was an event they held every four years.

Christensen remembers helping her mother decide what to give. One year, her mother contributed some Asian art pieces she had collected over the years. It wasn't that the pieces were old, they just didn't necessarily have a need for them anymore.

Many Treasure Market donors are like Christensen's mother. Jan Thomson, a Stanford staff member, has provided some posters to the fundraiser before.

"I had them for awhile, loved them and then, it's time for something different," she said. "Treasure Market is a wonderful place when you have things that are still in great condition and great quality and someone else might love. It's a great way to get it to a great next home."

Christensen is the underwriter of this year's expenses, allowing the committee to have a warehouse in Menlo Park where people can drop off items on Wednesday mornings throughout the year. This will also ensure all proceeds from the event go directly to the museum.

"We have been able to take the time to sort out some of the lesser things and so we have a lot of very nice things that will be for sale," Sher said. Unlike a flea market, more like an antique store, it's an "upper end kind of collection of things," she continued.

"Many items are donated by the greater Stanford community so I always feel like I'm selecting from the closets or attics of Jane Stanford, a famous professor or a Nobel prize winner," Mary Ann Nyburg Baker, the honorary chair of Treasure Market, said.

Available for purchase is a wide array of items: first edition and autographed books and manuscripts, crystal antiques, porcelain, furniture, antique Japanese dolls in glass cases, silver, world art and much more.

Susan Dennis is a volunteer for Treasure Market. "I always fall in love with a few of the pieces," she said. "Drawings, prints, paintings, still life -- I always come home with one or two pieces from every treasure market."

According to Christensen, "Jewelry seems to go pretty quickly."

Thomson remembers buying an amber necklace one year that needed to be restrung. "My jeweler was amazed at what an extraordinary bargain I got because, in her world, it was worth many more times than what I had paid for it," Thomson recalled.

Thomson has also purchased her dining-room carpet, a kimono and a fur coat from Treasure Market. "I've never worn it, but you never know when it's going to get cold enough," she laughed.

Volunteers spend the two-year period between each Treasure Market "sorting, pricing, studying what we have, finding out the background of the items donated," Sher said. "We try our best to give good value as well as nice things."

Dennis, a graduate of Stanford's art history department, is one of the lead volunteers who help to oversee the pricing and studying of gifted items. She works with local appraisers and experts on art to decide appropriate, yet affordable prices.

Big-ticket items for this year's Treasure Market include a German genre painting that could run $10,000 to $15,000. Also available is a Tibetan hat that is only made and given to dignitaries and a complete set of Royal Crown dinnerware whose owner said, "I wanted this very badly when we were in England. Then, when I got home I never used it," Sher said.

Two large, handmade, all-wood dollhouses complete with furniture and family will be available along with some stone African sculptures and handmade 1890 quilts. With the Arrillaga facility packed with tables, racks and glass cases, event volunteers assert there is something for everyone.

"In a world where everything is done by catalog purchases and Ikea, it's the anti-Ikea because you can really personalize your space with unique objects that you don't see everyday," Dennis said.

For those not interested in antiques, a new feature of this year's Treasure Market will be a glass show and sale by four local glass artists: Johnathan Schmuck, Treg Silkwood, Demetra Theofanous and Dean Bensen.

What: Treasure Market 2014

When: Preview: Friday, March 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Opening Night Party: Friday, March 28, 6:30-9:30 p.m.; Weekend Sale: Saturday, March 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, March 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, 341 Galvez St. (at Campus Drive), Stanford University

Tickets: Preview: $250 (includes Opening Night Party); Opening Night: $100 nonmembers, $75 Cantor Arts Center members; Weekend: $5 each day


Editorial Intern Tre'vell Anderson can be emailed at


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