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Area residents may profit from hidden treasure

November 17, 2010

Bill Dunkle of Kane looks on as a staff member from the Treasure Hunters Roadshow determines whether the old coins he brought will be valuable to a collector. Photo by Victoria Stanish

Area residents have the opportunity to find out whether any of the items in their attics, basements and garages are worth more than meets the eye at the Treasure Hunters Roadshow, in progress this week at the Comfort Inn in St. Marys. The event is open to area residents from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. Frank Walton, manager for the local Roadshow, explained that the Treasure Hunters Roadshow is different from the popular "Antiques Roadshow" in that it does not provide appraisals, but instead matches items with a database of collectors. The staff does not determine an item's overall value, and they are not licensed or bonded appraisers. They draw on a wealth of personal knowledge, information from experts and access to research that helps them assess an item.
"We're strictly buyers. If people have something they want to part with, that's what we do," Walton said.
After determining if an item is relevant, the Roadshow staff provides payment on the spot if the seller accepts the collector's offer.
"If you accept the offer, then you walk out with a check for your items. It's pretty simplistic," Walton said.
Walton, who has been with the Roadshow for almost two years, said the Roadshow staff are on the lookout for items such as coins and currency dated before 1965, toys, dolls, trains, vintage jewelry, musical instruments of all eras, war memorabilia of all eras, swords, knives, daggers and anything interesting or unusual. Original artwork in pastels, oils and watercolors is also desirable, as are gold and other valuable metals.
"Right now, with precious metals so high, that's king," Walton said, adding that other popular items include vintage guitars and WWII memorabilia, particularly German.
Walton is on one of the 74 Treasure Hunters teams that travel throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. His said his team, currently based on the East Coast, enjoys the different small towns they pass through during their travels, as well as some of the more unique items people bring for them to see. During his time with the Roadshow, he has had the opportunity to view a 15th-century monastery bell that was smuggled out of France by someone's ancestor and a packet of letters written by a Union spy during the Civil War.
"Just when you think you've seen it all, someone will surprise you," he said.
According to Walton, coins dating prior to 1964 and precious metals are the most common items making an appearance at the St. Marys location. One attendee, Bill Dunkle of Kane, found a box filled with old coins and paper currency in the house he bought, and said he decided to bring in his discovery "just to find out if it's worth anything."
For more information on this story see the November 17th edition of The Daily Press.

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