NAUGATUCK — Borough resident Sandra Marcisz knew nothing about the machete she inherited from her uncle — “I know he got it when he served in World War II, but that’s about it,” she said. Marcisz, along with many other local residents, brought her mysterious heirloom, along with some old coins, to the Treasure Hunters Road Show, which was stationed in the Comfort Inn on New Haven Road for two weeks.
The event, to which locals hauled old antiques, collectibles, gold and coins seeking cash payments, is held in thousands of U.S. cities, and recently expanded internationally.
The Naugatuck show attracted such a large crowd that the company decided to stay for an extra week.
“With a town like Naugatuck, we realized that one week could not sufficiently meet the needs of the people, so we decided to extend our stay,” said Vice President of Media Relations Matthew Enright. The show was originally scheduled to end Saturday, June 6, but didn’t ultimately pack it in until Friday, June 11.
Jim Parry of Wolcott was particularly pleased to hear about the extension.
“I didn’t have the opportunity last week to come in,” he said. He brought a unique piece to the show: a large picture stitched completely out of shimmering thread. He called it “thread art.”
“My mom remembered her father bringing this home around 1937,” he said. “I wouldn’t even know what to call it; that’s why I’m here.” Parry thought he could get an estimated value of the piece, an idea he got from television shows such as PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.” In fact, Treasure Hunters workers are not licensed to appraise antiques, coins or gold. They can only extend cash offers for items.
“It has all the original frame and glass work, and I guess curiosity got the best of me,” Parry said. “Even if no one here focuses on artwork, I’m hoping maybe someone can point me in the right direction.”
According to Enright, employees of THR & Associates — the company that sponsors the event — who work on the road show are connoisseurs in their fields.
“We hire people with expertise in certain areas,” he said. “Our company [comprises] a big network of experts, and when we don’t have an expert on hand at a show, we have a live database that feeds information across the country.”
Naugatuck’s Linda Clifford was looking to cash in on her treasures. She brought in a handful of old jewelry, including a unique watch she inherited from a distant relative. The face of the watch is inscribed with Hebrew characters, and has an image of Moses and the Ten Commandments on the back.
“I couldn’t find it anywhere online, and I was curious to see how much it was worth,” she said. “I plan on selling it because it has no special meaning to me, since I got it from a distant relative.”
THR & Associates had dealt chiefly in antique toys before expanding their market to gold, jewelry and heirlooms over the last five years. It buys items at events like the road show and sells them to a variety of niche collectors for a profit.
“We purchase for collectors that are interested in specifics,” said Enright. “Our company gets a finder’s fee, so the more [our sellers] get, the more money we are able to make.”
That business model translates to a boon for people looking to clean out the attic or exchange unwanted antiques or jewelry for cash.
James Nardello of Naugatuck came in hoping to put a price on his wife’s Shirley Temple doll, which she received as a gift in 1934. He brought various other items he wanted to know more about, including a Nazi armband and Japanese flag from WWII.
“I have some platinum and gold [jewelry] as well, at least that’s what I’ve been told,” he laughed, “but it could be brass for all I know! But that’s what I’m here to find out.”