Taking it on the road

Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2011 in Features

Taking it on the road

by Christopher Bouchard

PRESQUE ISLE – The largest traveling roadshow in the world made a visit to Presque Isle last week. The Treasure Hunters Roadshow set up in the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center for four days, and bought a plethora of antiques, coins, old guitars, and everything in between from people all around the County.

Since 1996, Treasure Hunters Roadshow has been buying antiques around the United States and Canada, and is now expanding into Europe.

“We buy all kinds of stuff,” says Derik Overholser, who was leading the Northeast tour. “What I hope to achieve is to see some things that are really different. Someone once sold us a document signed by John Hancock, which our experts proved to be legitimate. One of the oddest things we've ever bought was a World War II era manhole cover from Berlin with Nazi swastika on it.”

Even though the roadshow had only been in Presque Isle for a few hours, it had already purchased a relatively large amount of items, especially when considering the city's low population. Six guitars, a Nazi dagger (also sporting a swastika), a vintage radio, a plate filled with old coins, and another plate filled with jewelry were purchased.

The Treasure Hunters Roadshow made its television debut with a program on the Livewell network last year. The show covers the organization on the spot in locations that are rich with obscure antiques. One episode, for example, takes place in Kansas City, where viewers get to see items related to Princess Diana as well as some documents signed by America's founding fathers.

Though the organization is the largest of its kind, many believe it may be a scam.

According to an article posted by North Carolina's ABC news affiliate station WWAY3, the Better Business Bureau is warning the public that they may be getting ripped off if they decide to sell any of their antiques at a Treasure Hunters Roadshow event. The article quotes BBB Coastal Carolina President and CEO Kathy Graham as saying that the group is “not BBB-accredited by law, and by law they are not allowed to use the logo without being accredited.” She urges anyone interested in selling their treasures to research the item's value ahead of time before attending any events held by the Treasure Hunters Roadshow.

The BBB has received 10 complaints about the roadshow in the past three years. The BBB also claims that the group is guilty of writing a few bad checks.

The same article quotes Gary Easmunt, one of the Roadshow's field managers, as saying that they “follow every procedure there is.”

An article published by the State Journal Reporter states that the Treasure Hunters Roadshow is being sued by the producer of “Antiques Roadshow” on the grounds that Treasure Hunters is “usurping ('Antiques Roadshow's) goodwill, trademarks, and treasure chest logo.” "Antiques Roadshow" is seeking all of the profits that Treasure Hunters Roadshow has made as a result of this.

Carl Buck, the attorney representing Treasure Hunters, is quoted in the article as saying that the group he's defending is “very different,” and that "Antiques Roadshow" is “more promotional; ours is a business and a sales thing. We have our own symbols and signs.”

Regardless of any accusations the group receives, the fact remains that it's still running strong, and it's still the largest entity of its kind  in the world.

“I enjoy what we do, and the things we get to see,” says Overholser. “I hope to be still doing this for a while, and I'm really hoping to spend some more time here and see more people.”

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