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Treasure Hunters Roadshow stops in Modesto

Have a 1950s guitar in the closet? A stash of coins in the basement? An old toy in the attic?

What might seem like junk to you could translate into quick cash when the Treasure Hunters Roadshow arrives in Modesto today.

But be forewarned: The Treasure Hunters Roadshow, not to be confused with the PBS television program "Antiques Roadshow," has acknowledged writing bad checks, though the company says these complaints have been resolved. It has a B-plus (on a scale of A to F) from the Better Business Bureau.

Also, the markets for antiques and collectibles favor the buyer, not the seller, right now.

"If I had something and I wasn't desperate for money, I would hold onto it right now," said Dennis Bacchetti, a dealer at Antiques Warehouse in Salida.

Still, if you want to sell, the Treasure Hunters Roadshow wants to buy. Among the items it is especially interested in: coins made before 1965, jewelry, gold, silver, toys and musical instruments.

"We see everything from grandma's class ring to letters from Abraham Lincoln," said Matt Enright, vice president of media relations for the organization. "You name it, we see it."

The company, a middleman for collectors throughout the world, travels to some 1,000 cities a year looking for old and valuable things. Shows attract some 1,200 people.

Here's how it works: Bring in your item and have it evaluated by one of the company's representatives, who have experience in antiques and collectibles. If the company has a collector in the market for your item, it will offer to buy it for what the collector is willing to pay.

Treasure Hunters Roadshow pays people on the spot for their items. More than 80 percent of items brought in are purchased, Enright said.

He said prospective sellers might be surprised by an item's worth. "We tell people, you never know when something's going to be worth something," he said.

It might sound enticing to get cash for unwanted items, but do your homework before you sell, said Bacchetti, the Salida antiques dealer.

The poor economy has many people trying to sell items they otherwise would keep, so the market is flooded, he said.

If you are bent on selling, check out books on valuing antiques from the library, and, if possible, take your item to a few area antique shops and ask them to value it, Bacchetti advised.

Treasure Hunters Roadshow bounced checks earlier this year in other states. The company says its bank held onto a six-figure check for 10 days, causing checks to bounce. The company says it has since paid every check, plus fees.