An English Pottery Racing Horse, Newcastle upon Tyne, circa 1800-1810 (Washington Winter Show/Earle D. Vandekar)

The word ‘antiques’ scares a lot of people. They think of huge hunks of pricey brown furniture from dusty Downton Abbey-like estates.

But this weekend, the Washington Winter Show, can help demystify the world of period furnishings, silver, estate jewelry, porcelain, 19th century wicker and vintage teddy bears. The annual antiques show staged at American University’s Katzen Art Center opens to the public (admission $20) this Friday with 45 dealers and a host of programs. Dealers love talking about their stuff so you get a bit of a history lesson, and spending a few hours checking out the curated goods will help train your eye to being a better flea market shopper.

A hot attraction: Saturday’s Appraisals event from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. For $10 per item, one of nine experts will evaluate whatever precious family collectible you want to bring in. “People come with their prized items in bags wrapped in tissue or a bath towel,” says Mason Bavin, co-chair of this year’s show. “It’s amazing what turns up.”

The theme of this year’s show is “The Thrill of the Chase: Antiques of the Sporting Life.” There is free parking under the building. Proceeds from the show benefit three charities focused on children and families.

Jura Koncius is a staff writer for the Washington Post’s Local Living section. Follow @JuraKoncius on Twitter.