We finally made the call to a local auction house with the intention of getting a whole-house appraisal. The last appraisal of any of these goods was in 1982, and most items were not even appraised--none of the toys, dolls, ephemera, china, or costume jewelry. Obviously, it might not be worth the cost to appraise it, but how will we know unless we do it?
The auction house is very well-known, and they were super helpful. They charge an hourly rate, which we can shave down by doing some of the legwork ourselves, like setting up the spreadsheet. It's time-consuming but doesn't require specialized skill. Yep, that fits our potential level of involvement--not that we have loads of time, but we certainly don't have specialized skill! The last appraisal they did on a house about the size of ours took 4 full days. The cost for that would prove quite prohibitive for us, so we're looking for any way at all we can keep those dollars from adding up too much!
So, in the not-so-distant future, V and I will slowly, painstakingly, laboriously go room by room through all 2200 square feet of the house and enter items piece by piece onto a spreadsheet. Then, we'll call in the big guns. Eventually, we'll probably put some things up for auction, but it'll be difficult to figure out what. Now, if we find out that the whozitwhazzit that has been tucked away, forgotten, in a closet for 100 years is worth tens of thousands of dollars, our job will become a whole lot easier!