Monday, January 9, 2012
Treasure Hunters Roadshow visits McKinney
The show continues amid sellers' complaints.
Treasure Hunters Roadshow hasn't slowed down despite speculation in recent years of questionable buying practices. The value of gold and silver is at an all-time high, so the show must go on.
That means again sending a THR team to McKinney, where residents seem to continually look for ways to cash in on their "trash."
"A lot of places, customers ask us to come back," said Andy Gladson, THR manager whose team is stationed this week at the Best Western Plus right off U.S. Highway 75. "McKinney has responded very well to us."
Throngs of potential sellers haven't yet come to sell at the show, which opened shop Tuesday and runs through Saturday, but Gladson expects higher turnouts as the week goes on.
Even without long lines winding out the door, the THR team has already found the treasure it's hunting. One lady brought in a French Revolutionary drum with missing drum heads and roughed-up edges, and walked out with $400. Another resident brought a 1975 Fender Jazz bass guitar.
But gold and silver jewelry and coins are the hottest commodities, especially now that THR has hundreds of teams spread out across the U.S., England, Canada, Spain and Germany at one time.
"We pay high," Gladson said. "From what I understand, we buy a large percentage of the gold in the U.S. We have the ability to sell it off at a higher price, so we pay a lot for it."
The company represents thousands of collectors around the world who are actively seeking additions to their collections. Buyers make "fair and honest offers ... based on current market, Internet, and specific collectors' values," according to a THR brochure.
The Examiner, a news source in Beaumont, two years ago conducted a 30-day investigation into THR's gold and silver buying habits, and reported that such a claim is misleading. Examiner employees took gold and silver coins to four THR events in two states, and "in each encounter the money offered was nearly a third of the actual value of the items being presented for sale," according to the Examiner report.
Mike Fuljenz of Universal Coin & Bullion reportedly aided with the investigation, and said that an offer from THR on several gold and silver coins was well below scrap value.
When asked on Wednesday about such claims, Gladson emphasized that THR does not employ licensed appraisers and that even appraisers differ in their price estimates.
"Traditionally, we try to pay as high as we can on the spot, so we don't have to go through (negotiating)," he said. "It's determined by what we think we can sell it for. Everyone's appraisal is different. What we try to do is find the true value of it."
When such values are partly determined by what specific collectors will pay, there are of course differing opinions of an item's "true" worth. Appraisers include markups and replacement costs when determining value, which creates even more of a disconnect, Gladson said.
As for antiques and collectibles aside from gold and silver, THR employs a research department that authenticates items online. Team members send pictures to the department via computer and often receive a validated response within minutes.
Items such as swords and knives are easily identified, Gladson said, simply because THR sees so many on a weekly basis. The THR display table features World War II knives, helmets, and cast-iron coin banks as evidence.
But commonality shouldn't hinder sellers from trying their luck. Andrew Gunther, a THR buyer at this week's McKinney show, said there's often a fine line between dud and dandy.
"If there's a story behind it, it tends to bring in a little more," Gunther said. "It all just depends on the item."
Two months ago, a Civil War sword sold for close to $11,500, because experts determined it was used by Gen. Henry Corbett during the war. Pre-1965 coins can bring in face value or several hundred times that.
A seller on Tuesday earned 40 cents for a Buffalo nickel, which features a buffalo on one side. But three-legged Buffalo nickels -- those minted in 1937 in Denver -- have sold for around $700.
"I've always been around coins, even before I got this job," Gunther said. "Just seeing all the old antiques come in is pretty neat."
Gladson, who worked in retail management before joining THR a year ago, echoed Gunther's pleasure in seeing items they wouldn't otherwise see. He once got to peer through the diary of a Civil War soldier.
"From the style of writing and the words used, I knew right away that it was authentic," he said. "It was a real education, not just 'these are the battles,' but the day-to-day life of a soldier."
Other than the war drum, though, gold and silver have been the norm in recent months. Whether they're selling belt buckles, broken necklaces, or diamond rings, many seem willing to part with their precious metals for the right price.
Even if it isn't necessarily the top price.
"If they think they can get more, that's great. I hope they do," Gladson said. "We can't pay retail price for everything that comes through the door. We're going to give you the fair value of it."
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
Andrew Snyder contributed to this report.
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