An associate with the International Coin Collectors Association inspects coins that Doerun resident Jennifer Pantone, left, brought in for appraisal Wednesday at the Internation Coin Collector Association's show.
ALBANY, Ga. -- This week, instead of spending old loose change sitting around the house, residents of Southwest Georgia have the chance to get money for it.
Buyers with the International Coin Collectors Association are in town this week, examining items of silver and gold to test their worth and merit. If items are found to have value, visitors are given a check on site.
According to show manager Brice Lanier, about 75 have visited so far, and he hopes that number will reach 200 by week's end.
Items bought by the ICCA are sent to the company's headquarters in Springfield, Ill. From there, most items are passed along to collectors.
So far, this week's show has included items ranging from traditional coins, silverware and jewelry, to old paper money and Swedish coins, resulting in about $45,000 being circulated into the community.
Lanier said the show is a win-win for prospective sellers.
"You don't have anything to lose by bringing items in," he said. "I once wrote a $32,000 check for a rare 1803 penny ... you never know."
Sometimes a sweet story comes to light as well. Lanier recalled a time when a recently widowed man from Newnan brought in a Mason jar of coins he and his wife had collected during their years together.
"He walked out with a check for $12,000," Lanier said. "That makes you feel good."
Buyers at the show have their eye out for coins minted prior to 1965 and paper money made before 1934. Coins with "CC" inscribed on their backs are especially worth a "pretty penny." According to Lanier, these coins were made in Carson City, Nev., which no longer produces money, and are considered to be quite valuable.
The trained associates who travel the country with the ICCA are able to tell the value of items within a matter of minutes. Prospective sellers can quickly learn whether their coins and jewelry are pure gold, or just simply "gold-filled."
"A lot of people who come are surprised to find out their items don't contain as much gold as they thought," Lanier said.
For security purposes, sellers are required to give basic information, and a thumbprint image is taken after a deal is made. Records of sales are then preserved for local authorities in case a purchased item is later discovered to have been stolen from its original owner.
Those who bring in items are not required to sell. According to one associate with the company, "Sometimes the sentimental value is worth more to people than the cash value, and they choose to keep their items."
Wednesday was the first time Doerun resident Jennifer Pantone brought coins to this type of show for inspection. While there, she also had items of sentimental value appraised, not to sell, but to satisfy her curiosity. And while Pantone ultimately chose not to sell everything she brought in, at the end of the day she walked out with a check for more then $70.
The show is also an opportunity for those interested in finding out what buyers are looking for and to gather information on what to keep an eye out for on future "treasure hunts."
"I didn't bring all the coins I have in today," Pantone said as she wrote down notes.
As Lanier stated: "Most people have this stuff just sitting around the house -- might as well bring it in and see what it's worth. You may at least get a full tank of gas out of it."
Guests can bring in as many items as they want, free of charge, for appraisal to the Country Inn & Suites at 2809 Nottingham Way in Albany. The show continues today through Saturday. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. today and Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday.
Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call (217) 787-7767 or visit the ICCA's website at www.internationalcoincollectors.com.