From antique items to sports collectibles, Nathan Shafer just might take a look at almost anything of value.
“I once paid $10,000 each for four walrus oosik (bones),” said the manager of the Ohio Valley Gold and Silver Refinery, a division of Treasure Hunters, based in Springfield, Ill.
The oosik is the private part of a male walrus.
At Friday’s road show held at the Best Western Executive Inn and Suites, Shafer noted that the pre-1940 Inuit handicraft is also rare Alaska Native art.
“An elderly woman got them from a bar in Alaska,” he recalled.
The last day for the road show in Manteca is today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the hotel located at 1415 E. Yosemite Ave. From there, the Ohio Valley crew will travel a few miles north on Highway 99 to Stockton’s Clarion Inn at 4219 E. Waterloo Road, with the event going from Tuesday to Saturday.
A Tracy woman – she withheld her name for personal reasons – brought in several pieces of jewelry to the Manteca road show. The total value of her items came to over $500.
“She came away happy to get that much,” Shafer later said.
Business has been good for the folks at Ohio Valley.
“We’ve gone from 10 teams to 95 teams (across the country) since this beginning of our economy’s rollercoaster ride,” said Shafer, who estimated doing 40 road-show sites per year.
In Manteca, Michael Archer III, who is one of his field buyers, has looked at his fair share of jewelry and coins (pre-1965) during these past few days.
But the road show event is much more than gold and silver.
The company at other shows paid $30,000 for a George Washington letter and the same amount for Johnny Cash’s bed. A 1960 Les Paul guitar went for $100,000.
“We almost paid $350,000 for a Honus Wagner baseball card only to discover it was a fake,” Archer said.
Among sports memorabilia, Ohio Valley expressed an interest in are pre-1970 baseball cards, vintage autographs, vintage game-used equipment, and championship trophies and rings.
Comic books are also part of the business, in particular, the 10- and 12- cent Marvel and DC superhero comics.
As for dolls and toys, Ohio Valley will pay up to $6,000 for a vintage Barbie and $3,000 for a G.I. Joe from that same period and in mint condition.
Electric and acoustic guitars can fetch some big dollars.
“We paid $4,500 for this really cool old Martin guitar that this guy picked up at a Goodwill store for $10. And since It was half-off that day, he bought it for $5,” Archer said.
Ohio Valley, in addition, will pay for old advertising – a vintage Case equipment sign was purchased in Manteca – muscle cars, war items (Civil War, World War I and World War II), model trains, tiffany, watches, firearms, and swords.
Another oddity purchased by the company was a vampire-killing kit from the 1800s.
“That went for $10,000,” Shafer said.
More information can be obtained by calling (217) 726-7590 or clicking on to www.ohiovalleygoldandsilver.com.