LAYTON — Kathi Merrill did not expect to be holding a fortune on her lap.
“You never know,” Merrill said while looking at her collection of old wheat-back pennies. “If they mess up on the print or the edge, the coins are worth a lot more.”
Merrill, 53, of West Point, was one of the hundreds of people to bring old coins, watches, paper bills and even motorcycles to a Premier Antique, Coin & Currency Buyers event on Friday to learn of their worth.
Bill Blakney, event manager for Premiere Antique, Coin & Currency Buyers, has been buying people’s antique items all week at the Courtyard by Marriott, at 1803 Woodland Park Drive.
“It’s been really good,” Blakney said. “There have been a lot of happy people. We’ve bought lots of coins and lots of gold.”
Blakney said the highest amount he has paid this week was for a silver coin, which he bought for around $800. Blakney also bought another coin for $720.
Merrill did not expect to be that lucky. Her wheat-back pennies, all minted between 1909 and 1958 and featuring wheat shocks on the back of the coin, are usually worth only three times the value of the coin. However, there are coins minted during a few key dates that are worth hundreds or thousands of times more than their one-cent face value.
Merrill also had a silver certificate dollar from her birth year of 1957, and she wanted to see if the dollar was worth anything.
“My mom has a bunch of coins from the 1800s,” Merrill said. “But I couldn’t get a hold of her to see which ones they were.”
Blakney and his daughter, Cassie, are one of 160 PACCB teams worldwide. They carefully look at every item brought to them and rely on their knowledge, as well as a research library, to correctly identify the worth of each item.
The PACCB also has a world-class research center in Springfield, Ill.
“If we don’t know what it is, they do,” Blakney said.
In order to decide how much he can pay for an item, Blakney checks an online database or contacts potential buyers on the spot before making an offer.
“Old coins are worth more than the silver in them,” Blakney said. “We have a lot of collectors looking for things.”
That includes gold, silver, platinum, gold coins, broken jewelry, coins, paper currency, wrist and pocket watches and guitars.
“We pay high,” Blakney said. “We have to, because of the pawn shops and used jewelry stores.”
At the end of each day, Blakney ships the items he bought that day. He does that for security reasons, as well as avoiding the burden of shipping multiple boxes at the end of the week.
Blakney, who travels throughout the Intermountain West, has been in Layton since Tuesday and will leave Sunday to go to Idaho.
Those hoping to sell their old items can visit Blakney today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott.