Middle Georgians bring antiques, heirlooms to roadshow to see their worth

Old coins. Musical instruments. A box of dolls. Confederate money. Even a box of fishing tackle.

A steady stream of more than 70 Middle Georgians took all these items and more to the Treasure Hunters Roadshow on Tuesday, hoping to learn that some of the knickknacks and trinkets tucked away in drawers and closets over the years would prove to be hidden treasures.

The result of these mixed bags of items was mostly, well, a mixed bag.

Robert Padgett of Macon showed up with some old Confederate currency, preserved in plastic bags, to be appraised. As the roadshow’s expert examined the money, she determined only one of the bills is authentic. The others turned out to be reproductions.

As a result, Padgett ended up not selling his currency to the roadshow. However, his wife’s old jewelry ended up fetching nearly $400.

“It’s fun,” he said. “I was disappointed about the counterfeit Confederate money, though.”

Jesse Price, team manager for Treasure Hunters Roadshow, said his experts never know what they will find when people arrive with their items. Usually, he said, there are some pretty good finds.

A man took a Civil War document to the roadshow in Athens a couple of weeks ago. Civil War documents aren’t all that uncommon, Price said, but this one happened to be signed by Abraham Lincoln. It was valued at between $6,000 and $8,000, Price said.

“I think people always have curiosity about what they have,” he said. “Honestly, people have items, and they have no idea how much they are worth.”

The roadshow bought an antique pocket watch for about $180 Tuesday, one of the most expensive purchases made, Price said. The watch is worth about $300.

Price said his firm looks at items that have value as collectibles — such as antique toys, old coins and war memorabilia — that it can turn around and sell to collectors around the world. Sometimes the roadshow buys up old jewelry, which can be melted down for gold, silver or other precious metals. Gold is currently trading at about $900 an ounce, Price said.

“Really, it’s a good opportunity if you’ve got broken jewelry that you can’t get fixed,” he said. “You can get more (for the scrap value) than you actually paid for it.”

Coins are another hot commodity, particularly U.S. coins minted before 1964 when the United States stopped using precious metals in its coins, he said.

Greg McDougal of Macon showed up early Tuesday morning and got a few dollars for a few of his old coins. He later came back with a World War I bayonet that has been in his family for decades.

“I had a bunch of coins I had been saving for the past few years, and I wanted to see if all the saving was worth it,” McDougal said. “(The value) wasn’t much, but it was worth it knowledge-wise.”

McDougal said one of his brothers has the rifle the bayonet belongs to. He was offered $25 for it Tuesday and opted not to sell.

Joyce Liggin drove to Macon from Montezuma with her sister-in-law, Wanda, for the roadshow. Liggin’s mother-in-law recently died, and Liggin inherited a collection of old coins. Some dated back to the early 1900s, and one was dated 1865.

“We had already decided to (find out) what they were worth,” she said. “We were going to find someone to tell us. Then we saw (the roadshow) in the paper and said ‘This is just perfect.’ We’re trying to settle the estate. The money isn’t necessary, but we need to find out what it’s all worth.”

Many of Liggin’s coins were individually wrapped in paper with the dates written on them. She arrived with a bunch of them in a small sack but said she had many more at home and would likely be back at the roadshow later this week.

“We have a case full of coins that’s so heavy, we can’t move it,” she said.

Price said unlike the “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS, his firm doesn’t sell items to the average person, nor does it buy larger items such as furniture. Items are judged on their age, rarity and condition.

“It’s fun seeing all the items come through,” he said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.