What’s the value of this?

Published 9:20 am Monday, March 8, 2010

With everything from coins, jewelry and musical instruments in hand, area residents bore down on Americas Best Value Inn last week in an effort to make a little extra money off their collectibles.

David Wright, manager of the local Treasure Hunters Roadshow, which was in town Tuesday through Saturday, said he and his staff saw a good showing from area residents.

Of the notable items brought in, there was a 1967 Fender guitar worth $8,000, a 23-jeweled pocket watch worth a little over $1,000 and some large coin collections worth in excess of $9,000.

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“Southern Minnesota has been very good,” he said.

The first three days of the show — on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — there was a large showing, Wright said. As the week went on, however, it slowed down a bit and people didn’t have to wait as long in line until they could be seen.

He estimated that by the end of the week, the roadshow staff would have seen between 400 and 450 people.

The roadshow — which was last in Albert Lea September 2008 — looks at everything from vintage musical instruments, war memorabilia, coins, currency, toys, dolls and trains, to name a few items. Wright said the majority of what people were cashing in on, however, was coins and old jewelry.

He said the show’s staff act as a middle man between collectors and sellers — as what he described as the “eyes and ears” of the 6,000 different collectors they work with.

In many cases, what an item is worth is based not on how old that item is, but how rare it is.

While many had success at the roadshow, not everyone was lucky when they brought in items to be appraised.

On Friday, Albert Lea couple Dale and Adean Turner came to the roadshow to try their luck with four old pocket watches.

Adean Turner said the watches belonged to relatives.

“Our kids don’t want them, and we don’t need them,” she said.

The couple waited as Wright and another roadshow staff member opened each watch, jotted down information on each and then looked up that information in a database to see if any collectors were looking for those kinds of watches.

He said he thought the watches were worth about $50 each, as most collectors are looking at higher-jeweled watches. The Turner’s watches each had between 10 and 15 jewels, while collectors are looking at 21 or more jewels.

He warned the Turners to not wind up watches that haven’t been cleaned in the last few years and suggested that the couple maybe take them to a local antiques dealer.

Though it may not have been what they had hoped to hear, Dale Turner said he planned on coming back with an 1854 gold coin to get it checked out.

Wright expected a larger crowd on Saturday because of people who had to work during the week.

Though people collect things for many different reasons, Wright encouraged them to collect for fun.

“Don’t collect something because you think it’s going to increase in value. It probably won’t,” he said.

Though many people are not aware of it, he said one hot item in Minnesota right now is pottery. Most people don’t know there used to be 40 potteries in Minnesota.

He said some comic books that originally sold for 9, 10 or 12 cents are also still worth a lot. When it comes to comics, what’s important is not just what comic it is but what the condition is, too.

Old guitars are still holding their value well also, but for other old instruments it all depends on how rare they are.

Wright said the Treasure Hunters Roadshow has about 50 teams throughout the United States. The team that was in town covers a three-state area.

According to the Treasure Hunters Roadshow Web site, the roadshow has purchased over $200 million of items for its collectors network.

Roadshow teams across the country travel more than 300,000 miles a year.