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One man’s treasure is another man’s trash at traveling roadshow

August 10th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Michael Doxey

A family heirloom can invoke memories of deceased loved ones and give a glimpse of what your ancestor’s life may have been like. If you are not that sentimental, another great place to reminisce about your family’s old possessions is at the Treasure Hunters Roadshow, where experts will inspect your junk and maybe even throw out a dollar amount to purchase the heirloom from you.

The Treasure Hunters Roadshow came to Logan’s Crystal Inn last week. Denise Johnson, a buyer for the roadshow, said the treasures don’t always bring joy.

“It’s sad,” she said. “We get a lot of old people in here with stuff that they have tried to pass down to their children, but the kids just don’t want it. So they say, ‘Fine, we’ll sell it and take a vacation.’”

What the Treasure Hunters are looking for is old toys in great condition, like Tonka trucks with real rubber tires, and anything really old that still has the box.

“Sometimes we will buy just the box for more than the toy itself,” Johnson said. Other hot items include old weapons, war medals and uniforms, mainly from WWII and older. Precious metals are in high demand, especially gold.

“Every time Obama gives a speech gold goes up.” Johnson said.

One of the unique items that Treasure Hunters have come across is a vampire killing kit from the 1700s. Johnson said that at the time, enough people genuinely believed in vampires to have a vampire killing kit around the house.

In another memorable case, a Roadshow participant back East brought in a letter written by George Washington that eventually sold for $25,000 after it was authenticated. Johnson said they also once paid $150,000 for a calvary harness that someone brought in.

“The Treasure Hunters make offers based on what collectors are willing to pay,” said Matthew Enright, the Roadshow’s vice president of media relations. “When someone decides to sell, he or she gets paid on the spot, and the Treasure Hunters send the item to the collector.”

Enright said items don’t have to be old to be valuable. The item does need to be unusual and in good condition.

Logan resident Jeremy Threlfall showed up at the Roadshow with a large bin of old comic books and trading cards that he’d inherited. Many of the cards were still in the original boxes with the cellophane securely intact.

The buyers sorted the comic books by cover price—15-cent comics were of more interest than the 75-cent or $2.25 comics. The buyers looked through their database for collectors who might be looking for something in Threlfall’s collection. After about 30 minutes, the buyer made an offer: $90 for the entire collection.

Threlfall estimated that $90 was less than the original cost of the comics, and asked if he could think about it and maybe bring them back the next day. The buyer than sweetened the pot to $100. Threlfall said he was tempted, but he restrained himself and decided to do a little homework on his own to determine the worth of the collection.


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