Dorothy Martin didn't know what to expect when she stuffed some of her most prized family heirlooms into a grocery bag Saturday and headed to the Medford Armory to have them appraised.

Dorothy Martin didn't know what to expect when she stuffed some of her most prized family heirlooms into a grocery bag Saturday and headed to the Medford Armory to have them appraised.

"I need to know the value, because I am the last leaf on the tree," said Martin, 79, of Klamath Falls. "My intention is to maybe sell these today. We'll see."

Walking through the 42nd annual Southern Oregon Antiques and Collectibles Club spring show and sale, Martin pulled out a WWI-era powder flask and a French-made compass as big around as a soup can, along with a timber scribe from the early 1900s and a mid-19th century black-powder horn.

The items belonged to her late husband, Martin said.

"I find this piece just absolutely fascinating," she said, holding up the timber scribe and fidgeting with its adjustable tools.

Before modern survey markers rendered the scribes obsolete, surveyors used them to carve township and range numbers into the trunks of trees.

"This is some really cool stuff," said George Schroeder, who worked as an appraiser during the show's Saturday opening. "It's probably some of the oldest stuff I have seen all day."

The black-powder horn, equipped with a whittled, wooden powder scoop, was likely made between 1850 and 1870, said Schroeder, who owns Schroeder's Quality Furniture & Collectibles in downtown Medford.

Her compass and powder flask were worth about $80 each, and the worn timber scribe about $40, Schroeder said, but more research might yield higher or lower prices, he said.

According to his best estimates, the horn is worth $75 to $150, which wasn't enough to tempt Martin to sell it, so she walked away with her grocery bag still full, disappearing into a room full of treasure hunters, hoarders and gawkers.

Inside the show, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Medford Armory, 1701 S. Pacific Highway, appraisers and other experts are on hand to evaluate heirlooms for a $3 fee that goes to charity. The ID Booth is one of the show's most popular traditions, a place where visitors can have their treasures identified and dated, and maybe even learn who made them.

Another feature of the show is the Hall Of Restoration, with glass repair, doll repair and cabinet restoration, There are also demonstrations of quilting, weaving, tatting and other skills. Admission to the show costs $5. See or call 541-840-8866 for more information.

"A lot of this stuff used to be in everyone's homes, then the popularity just came back," said Gloria Hinderer, president of the Southern Oregon Antiques and Collectibles Club.

Hinderer has been fascinated with antiques and collectibles her entire life, she said.

"Barbie dolls used to be very popular ... not so much now," she said. "Who knows how it happens? One person kind of starts it off, and it just snowballs from there. ... Usually someone will sell something for a good price and everyone wants one after that."

Hinderer has boxes full of Beanie Babies she can't find anyone to buy, she said.

"You buy something because it's selling good, it's like the stock market, and then the bottom goes out," Hinderer said.

"MCM is hot," she said, referring to mid-century modern items from the 1970s.

What might be popular next?

"It could be farm equipment. It might be space equipment. You never know. It goes through cycles," she said.

For Patrick Ryan, celebrity items are always a safe bet.

"If you get to a certain status of stardom, it's like you're invincible," said Ryan, 62, of Medford.

Ryan, who tries to attend the spring show every year, says he's keen on Beatles memorabilia.

Ryan said he enjoys collectible shows because it's like stepping back into the past. Old guns, shiny sets of vintage silverware, polished pieces of long-lived jewelry, coins, decades-old political campaign buttons, handmade, comfortably worn furniture, among countless other items, are all stuffed into the armory.

"You have to appreciate the art and the ambience of it all," he said.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or Follow him at