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Trash to treasure: 5 junk shop finds

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Who says that roaming yard sales or the isles of a local thrift store is a waste of time? Seasoned trash to treasure hunters know better.

Encouraged by shows like Antiques Roadshow on PBS and Pawn Stars and American Pickers on the History Channel, the interest in finding treasure from someone else’s trash has risen. Tales of folks like these who actually found a fortune also stoke the drive to treasure hunt.

Trash to treasure
Trash to treasure Antiques Roadshow

Trash to treasure

Antiques Roadshow, the  Public Broadcasting System's highest rated show, is now in its 18th season. Each week 8 million viewers tune in for the mixture of treasure hunt and history lesson tales of valuables discovered in thrift stores, yard sales and attics. The show has garnered 11 Emmy Award nominations and spawned a host of other shows with similar historical treasure hunt themes.

 Among the most valuable items on the show was a collection of jade that a woman's parents had bought in the 1940s in China valued at $1.7 million. 

More recently one Boise woman brought in a poster that her mother found at a yard sale and paid $200 for. The poster of a young bathing beauty was done by Earl Moran, an illustrator who was born in 1893 and died in 1984. The piece, mixed media on board, was appraised at between $20,000 and $30,000.

Trash to treasure
Trash to treasure Goodwill

Trash to treasure

In 2013 a Minnesota man spotted a faded Walt Disney poster of Lady and the Tramp at the his local Goodwill and decided to spring $4.99 for it, thinking it might be worth $100.
When Tom Glenn looked it up online he couldn’t believe his eyes. It looked exactly like rare 1955 original that was selling for $53,900.  He brought it in to an antique shop for analysis and sure enough, it was authentic.
The Twin Cities store where the poster was found processes thousands of items a day.
“That’s the beauty of Goodwill,” said Rick Leistico, manager, “We’re bound to miss some things but that’s good for our customers.”
Ballerina statue

Trash to treasure
Trash to treasure Goodwill

Trash to treasure

Sometime in 2010 a South Carolina man known, who goes only by his first name, Leroy, stopped to browse at the Anderson Goodwill. He saw an old oil painting of a hunting still life in a frame he recognized as circa 1800s.
He figured the frame alone was worth $50 so he happily paid the $3 asking price. As a former antiques dealer he recognized that the painting was old and of very good quality.
When the Antiques Roadshow came to the area his daughter-in-law brought in the painting which turned out to be Flemish, done in about 1650 and appraised at $20,000 to $30,000.
The news when it came up for auction in 2012 was even better. Bidders from at least five countries wanted the work which sold at the final gavel for $190,000.
Not a bad day at Goodwill.

Trash to treasure
Trash to treasure Antiques Roadshow

Trash to treasure

A pile of boxes in a showcase in an old junk shop in Walnut, Iowa held treasure for one woman. She pulled out a tattered gold case and opened it up to find an old daguerreotype. She liked the image and thought the face looked familiar so she agreed to pay $96 for the box.
When she went home and looked it up she discovered it was an image of Edgar Allen Poe. It turned out to be a very rare image of the American writer who was born in 1809 and died in 1849.
Antique Roadshow's appraiser, C. Wesley Cowan estimated that the image would go at auction for between $30,000 and $50,000. 

Trash to treasure
Trash to treasure Stock photo

Trash to treasure

Nashville couple Stan and Linda Caffy thought nothing of donating to a thrift store the faded copy of the U.S. Constitution that had hung in their garage for ten years.
That turned out to be a fortunate move for Michael Sparks. He shelled out $2.48 for the parchment along with a pair of salt and pepper shakers.
After doing some online research he discovered that the yellowed document really was authentic. John Quincy Adams had commissioned 200 official copies of the Declaration of in 1820 and his document was one of only It was one of only 36 known to exist today.
After a year of authentication, it sold at auction for $477,650.
As for Caffy, he is left with some regrets. He told a reporter, he was "the idiot who donated that Declaration you wrote about."
 

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