Roadshow shells out money for collectibles

PAT FRIDGEN
Deb Piper, left, and her parents Eugene and Doris Hunsberger, Mercersburg, brought silver coins and wheat pennies to the Ohio Valley Roadshow in Greencastle. One coin dated to the 1820s.

Residents from every community in Franklin County made their way to a roadshow in hopes of cashing in on some of the treasures or junk laying around their homes. The Ohio Valley Refinery and Roadshow set up at the Comfort Inn Sept. 21 to 25, having advertised extensively that it was looking for antiques, collectibles, and gold and silver items.

Forty people brought in items the first day, said Frank Thornburg, show manager. He and his associates Jay Benham and Mike Smith examined scrap jewelry, silver coins and guitars. He expected the volume to increase each day, with Saturday the busiest.

The first batch of visitors brought in a Krugerrand, a Carson City Morgan silver dollar and diamond rings. Thornburg paid $1,250 for the 1979 one ounce gold coin from South Africa. Krugerrands were first minted in 1967 as a way for people to own gold.

By closing time on the last day, 200 people has passed through the doors, and Ohio Valley had distributed nearly $30,000 in exchange for goods. The most popular items were Morgan and Peace silver dollars, and Gibson and Martin guitars.

Thornburg, who travels three weeks out of the month from his Indiana home, said the roadshow concept was advantageous for communities as well as his company. Residents met face-to-face with a dealer and were paid on the spot. Greencastle's economy benefited from Ohio Valley's expenditures with local businesses, such as for advertising, food and lodging. The company itself took in precious metals that were sent daily to its refinery, he said.

Gold was a popular commodity. "At $1,300 an ounce, it's the highest ever," Thornburg said. "People are cashing in left and right. Gold is jamming."

The buyers also networked online with thousands of collectors around the world, and instantly found out if someone was looking for a specific item brought in each day.

The show was sponsored by the International Collectors Association.

Ohio Valley was similar to Antiques Roadshow, which offers appraisals by experts, especially since it just filmed six episodes for the Treasure Hunters Roadshow. The recording took place at mega-events. Thornburg was unsure of the debut date for the television series.

Mike Smith, Jay Benham and Frank Thornburg set up a table display of past purchases, including war memorabilia, jewelry and old toys. The troupe from the Ohio Valley Roadshow was in Hanover the week before, and was headed to Ticonderoga, N.Y. after Greencastle.