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Auburn “Roadshow” event attracts gold, silver sellers

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn’s Rosalie Armbruster was able to cash in on escalating precious metal prices Monday. Armbruster brought a small treasure-trove of silver, including sterling silver spoons and Kennedy half-dollars, to the Ohio Valley Refinery & Roadshow in Auburn. She was selling and the Springfield, Ill.-based business was buying. “I’m trying to downsize and get rid of some things,” Armbruster said, as she waited for a buyer at Monday’s session in a room at North Auburn’s The Ridge. About a half-hour later, Armbruster had sold much of what she brought – including a gold Hamilton watch she had removed the diamonds from – in return for a check totaling $202.50. Asked if she was happy with the sale, Armbruster said “absolutely.” “I may be back,” she said. “To me it’s just junk because I don’t wear it and it has to be polished. I’m happy to get rid of the stuff that’s just been sitting.” Monday was the first of five days the Ohio Valley Gold & Silver Refinery will be at The Ridge. Waits to have gold, silver and antiques priced and possibly bought were about two hours. The Refinery & Roadshow buying event, which moves from city to city around the country weekly, is making its second stop in Auburn after an inaugural visit a year ago. Michael Archer, Ohio Valley manager and buyer, said that the traffic through the middle of the day had been mostly in gold and silver sales. There were some antiques but nothing memorable. One seller came with a lute in a paper bag and left with the same lute in tow. Archer said there wasn’t a market for the instrument – not like the red-hot vintage guitar market that recently saw an Ohio Valley buyer pay $200,000, he said. Ohio Valley – started by an antique toy collector and seller 14 years ago – has links to about 6,000 collectors worldwide to help find buyers for collectibles, Archer said. The business was also hoping to see Auburn sellers drop in with another hot collectible right now – war memorabilia. While the Vietnam and Korean Wars are still relatively uncollectible, World War II items – especially Nazi items brought back to the United States as souvenirs, have become more valuable to collectors, Archer said. But gold and silver – with prices reaching levels that haven’t been seen in at least a generation – were luring sellers to see what they could get for pieces they no longer wanted. Auburn’s Judy Harder said she thought the time was right to sell some old silver candlesticks and salt and peppershakers. “When you get to my age, you either sell it or give it to someone who wants it,” Harder said. Harder said that she wasn’t seeking other quotes for her silver. Other local buyers of gold and silver – including Harvey Roper of Roper’s Jewelers and Stan Jennings of The Gold Place – recommend getting three or more quotes from other buyers. Even Matthew Enright, Ohio Valley’s vice president of media relations, said that it makes sense to check one or more pawn shop or gold sellers before making a decision to sell. The Ohio Valley Refinery & Roadshow, which has no relationship with the PBS or BBC TV shows “Antiques Roadshow,” has its own refinery and is looking to buy platinum as well as silver and gold. Silver – double what it was a year ago at more than $30 an ounce – was a particularly popular item to sell. Kathy Brown of Colfax said she brought along silver jewelry she had designed and made in class nearly four decades ago but had never been happy with. “And I gathered things I don’t wear any more and that the children don’t want,” Brown said.