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Treasure Hunt Roadshow lures people with possible collectibles
Bambi Smith uses a loupe to check for tell-tale marks at the bottom of a miniature toy soldier as requested by a visitor who came to the Treasure Hunters Roadshow event at Best Western Hotel in Manteca. The Roadshow, which represents and collectors interested in buying antiques and collectibles, will continue through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., except on Saturday when the event ends at 4 p.m. Admission is free.

Bambi Smith immediately set the record straight about what Treasure Hunters Roadshow is all about.

“We’re not appraisers. We’re buyers. We look for what our clients are looking for,” said the Roadshow associate who welcomed the people at the door Tuesday who came for the five-day event at Best Western Hotel in Manteca.

Roadshow events such as the one being held in Manteca through Saturday simply give an opportunity for people to sell their antiques and collectibles if they so choose, Smith explained.

Darlene Pfefferle, one of the three Roadshow representatives who sat down with the clients, echoed what Smith said.

“We are like the middleman” for collectors throughout the world who are their clients, she said.

As she and the other Roadshow representative – the third one was ill on Tuesday and was unable to work – sorted the items brought by the steady stream of people who came in throughout the day, they carefully examined each piece then checked their computer database of buyers and collectors who may be looking to buy that specific item. The owner of the antique or collectible item then has the choice to sell or not to sell it. If they decide to sell at the agreed-upon price, the transaction is made and the seller goes home with the check from the Treasure Hunters Roadshow. The company is responsible for delivering purchased items to their clients.

One of those who waited for more or less half an hour to sit down with one of the Roadshow representatives said she actually saw one man leave the room with check in hand.

Stephanie, who declined to give her full name, was one of several people interviewed who said they brought old coins to the event. Several brought their items in small to large pieces of luggage. One Mantecan used a hotel dolly to load up the boxes of items he brought to the event. In one box were collectibles from the old Heinze plant in Tracy. The rest of his collection was crammed in a bulging large piece of luggage.

Mantecan Jack Coldren was one of several visitors who brought along framed pictures and paintings. The two that Coldren brought belonged to his late grandfather, he said. One of them was a very old tapestry; the other was an oil painting. Both were from the late 1800s and came from Italy, and that was all he knew about them, he said.

He also brought along an ornate metal basket with two lids and a handle of which he knew nothing about, and a smaller metal container with somewhat similar intricate design. Rounding out the small collection that he brought was a blue delft pitcher decorated with trees and the head of an American Indian in bas relief.

While there was a steady stream of people in the afternoon, Smith said people had to wait in line in the morning when they opened at 9 o’clock.

Pfefferle said their buying clientele are looking for the gamut – from the commonplace to the rarest of items – but many of them are looking for “coins and scrap gold, dental gold.” They also have buyers who are “looking for that specific guitar,” she said. “They like the Gibson and Martin guitars. Those are the really collectible ones. Gibson is the big name for both electric and acoustic guitar,” she added.

“We actually bought a Les Paul guitar” for the lead guitarist of the band Metallica, Pfefferle said.

But one of the most interesting things that they have bought for a client was a “vampire killing kit” which was “authenticated,” she said.

When she went to San Francisco and visited the museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, “there was another vampire killing kit” on display, she said laughing.

In the kit was a hammer, a bottle of water and a stake, she said still laughing at the memory.

Manteca is just one of several locations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom where Treasure Hunters Roadshow events are held throughout the year. Smith said the Roadshow company, which is headquartered in Illinois, has “60 to 70 teams” today holding similar events at various locations year-round.

“We’re growing so much we’re now going to Spain. We’re big. This is not a small fly-by-night company,” said Smith who is part of a traveling team that goes to different places throughout the United States. She works three weeks every month, with the fourth week spent with her family in Arizona where she lives.

Pfefferle is from Minnesota but works strictly in California Roadshow events at her request because she likes working in the Golden State, she said.

The Treasure Hunters Roadshow will continue every day until Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Best Western Hotel in Manteca is located on East Yosemite Avenue right next to the southbound Highway 99 off ramp. Admission is free.