Heirlooms in attic could be worth a pretty penny

June 8, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The tough economy has prompted many wannabe treasure hunters to clean out the attic and dig in the jewelry box in search of hidden loot.

Treasure Hunters Roadshow, a traveling treasure hunt, rolled into Issaquah last week and offered locals a chance to discuss antiques and collectibles with experts.

Clint Crook, a roadshow representative, said some of the more unusual pieces to reach the roadshow included a bed believed to once belong to Johnny Cash. Everyday fare included smaller items pulled from closets, dressers and jewelry boxes.

Bob Steiner (left), a buyer with Treasure Hunters Roadshow, looks at the silver coins and jewelry of former Tiger Mountain resident Freda Stranack, 91 (center), who came with daughter Patty Parker to the Hilton Garden Inn in Issaquah. Photos by Greg Farrar

Crook said although collectors curtailed purchases because of the recession, some items remain hot. Early Barbie dolls attract attention. The vintage toys can fetch thousands of dollars from high-end collectors.

Other surefire sellers: old-school guitars and Winchester firearms. Crook said the Treasure Hunters Roadshow team had purchased a vintage guitar for $60,000 before the Issaquah stop. The guns, manufactured in the late 1800s, recall the rough-and-tumble days of the Old West — and demand a pretty penny from gun collectors. Crook said roadshow buyers secured $40,000 for a vintage pistol before the Issaquah stop.

The pieces carted to the Treasure Hunters Roadshow offered hints about how to spot potential valuables amid antiques.

Hundreds of people from Issaquah, the Eastside and the region unpacked antique lamps, hand-painted vases and porcelain figurines from bubble wrap in a hotel conference room last week. Organizers estimated the five-day event could draw as many as 1,200 people.

Silverware — the real stuff — and pre-1965 coins — comprised mostly of silver — also landed on buyers’ tables at the Treasure Hunters Roadshow. The most common item unloaded by attendees: gold jewelry. The price of gold has risen as investors sought a more stable investment in a roiling market.

The event bore similarities to the roving “Antiques Roadshow” broadcast on PBS. Though the “Antiques Roadshow” and Treasure Hunters Roadshow teams both appraise pieces, employees for the latter buy pieces outright.

“If you want to guarantee that I’m going to hand over a check, bring in your precious metals,” Crook said June 3, the third day of the Issaquah stop.

On the Web

Find the next Treasure Hunters Roadshow stop. Determine the value of heirlooms and oddities with a tips-of-the-trade guide and experts’ library on the website for PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” here.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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