INSIDE EDITION Investigates Antiques Roadshow Wannabes
Imagine hitting the jackpot by learning you have hidden treasures in your home. It happens over and over on the popular PBS series, Antiques Roadshow. But now, other companies around the country are advertising their own roadshows, encouraging you to cash in.
They say they pay "top dollar" or "sensational prices" for your collectibles. But is that always the case? To find out INSIDE EDITION obtained valuable items from recognized experts:
* A 1941 Gibson guitar. Experts say it's worth about $7,000 - and we should be offered at minimum $3,000.
* A GMT master Rolex watch with pointed crown guards experts say should get us at least $4,000
* And two vintage teddy bears made by the Steiff company which should fetch $2,500 and $1,000 dollars.
Next, INSIDE EDITION producers took the items to a company that had set up shop in hotel outside Raleigh, North Carolina.
Their brochure said their "experts" would evaluate the items and offer "sensational" prices."
They even have their own TV show, Treasure Hunters Roadshow. It looks similar to the Antiques Roadshow - their experts wow people by telling them what their items are worth. But there's absolutely no affiliation with the Antiques Roadshow.
When INSIDE EDITION brought hidden cameras in, "the collectibles expert" was interested in just one of the items, the Gibson guitar. The manager even came over to take pictures.
But after all their research, they completely misidentified our 1941 guitar, claiming it was a 1918 guitar.
And just listen to the puny offer: "Probably get you about $375 for it, if you want to sell it."
When our producer suggested it was worth more, the manager came over and upped the offer. "The absolute most I can pay for it is $450," she said.
Fred Oster is an expert on vintage musical instruments. After looking at our hidden camera footage, he said, "It horrifies me."
Oster said even with some minor defects, we should have been offered a minimum of $3,000 for the guitar, not 450 bucks.
"Either, they are ignorant of the subject matter or they are trying to rip you off.
There are only two possibilities," Oster explained.
Correspondent Paul Boyd went back to ask the company about their low ball offer and misidentification of the guitar.
"It would seem on the surface that on some level, you guys are taking advantage of people?"
"I can see where you are coming from but this was a mistake, our apologies," the manager replied.
We also brought our items to another company, "We Buy Treasure," which was operating out of a hotel in New Jersey. Would we do any better?
Company representatives carefully examined the guitar, and once again misidentified it.
"Southern jumbo. The shape it's in, I couldn't do much more than $300 on it," offered one rep.
Three hundred dollars! Remember, according to our experts, it's worth at least $3,000.
And what about our $2,500 Steiff bear? We were shocked by their offer.
"The bear's about $50 for the size of it."
Rebekah Kaufman is an expert on Steiff teddy bears and even appraises bears for the Steiff company. She was waiting outside the hotel in our van and was stunned by the offer.
"I don't think they know what they are doing at all. It seems a number they pulled out of a hat. It's extraordinarily low."
As for the Rolex, we did a little better. They offered $2,000, about half of what our expert said we should have been offered.
Paul Boyd went back to ask why they made such low offers.
"You say ‘we pay top dollar' and you offered us thousands of dollars less than what these items are worth?
"We pay top dollar in our market sir, and I'd like to see an item if you would care to bring it in."
After we showed them the items again, they stuck with their offer on the bear, but admitted they misidentified the watch and Gibson guitar, saying, "If we had correctly identified it, would our offer have been higher? Absolutely."
Rebekah Kaufman says before selling any items you think have value, get a number of opinions and check online auction websites to see what similar items have recently sold for.