Gem or Junk Part 5: The Final Countdown

Gem or Junk Finale
Posted at 6:29 PM, May 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-14 15:18:40-04

Over the past several weeks, WTXL ABC 27's Alex Cordero has been shopping around Tallahassee searching for bargains. His quest to become "Rookie Auctioneer Extraordinaire" ends as he heads back to "Manor Auctions" to see whether he scored big, or lost at the buzzer, on this edition of "Gem or Junk": The Final Countdown.

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (WTXL) --  Several weeks ago, we started a social experiment. With only twenty dollars in hand for a thrift store, an antique store, a garage sale and Craigslist, it was my mission to find a gem: Something worth a lot more than what I paid for.

So we went back to Manor Auctions with Malcolm Mason. We gave Mason the four items and gave him some time to appraise and evaluate them. Let's go through each one and see how we did.

So to start off, we went to Two Gals Thrift Shop and bought a vintage Seth Thomas alarm clock for $20. We thought it was worth fifty. What was Malcolm's opinion?

"This is Seth Thomas and I noticed you did stick to some time pieces with what you were looking at", explained Mason. "Buying something that's a known maker like Seth Thomas is always a good plan. It is missing a whole alarm function here, you can see on the back. You are missing a dial. Given the condition issues. It does have some condition issues. The fact that its missing the dial. If this were sold, it would probably between ten and twenty dollars in today's market.

That's a little bump in the road but I still am an amateur. What about the next item?

So next up, we went to Killearn Antiques and purchased "Some Merry Adventures of Robin Hood". It was originally priced above $20. We got it bartered down to 20. We thought it was worth $100. What did Malcolm think?

"Books are very tough, to begin with", Mason said. "Generally, books have to be very rare first editions in fantastic condition to garner a lot of interest and value in the market. You can see right away, it does have a lot of condition problems here. The binding is also coming and separating a bit. So this is actually a shortened version of the full novel. It would probably sell $5 to $15. Somewhere in that range."

Ouch! That one hurt! Especially after thinking it would be priced in the triple digits.

Next up, we went to Craigslist and we searched for a mid-20th century Maid of Honor food chopper. It was originally $25. We bartered it down to $20. We think we're going to get double the investment on it. What were Malcolm's thoughts?

"These types of things are the types of items that you'll find in estates generally, in a cabinet, still in the original box that they were purchased in, looking as if they've been used once or twice", said Mason. "This one has probably seen very little use. And you've got all the cutting blades in here and everything. The internals are all still there. It's in operating condition. Most probable selling point is between $10 and $20 on it. On a good day it might go for $24-$25. But most likely, between $10 and $20."

That was a little better but still not what I had anticipated. Our last item is our last hope.

Last but not least, we went to a garage sale. We got two watches, two different brands for $20. We think we're going to double our investment on that too. What's the final verdict?

"So you managed to score two watches for $20. Again, sticking with time pieces, clocks", said Mason. "Nice stones actually accent the dial. This is by Premier Designs. The second watch here is actually Timex Essentials from their Indiglo series. Your Premier Designs watch would probably bring between $20 and $30 on its own. Your Indiglo watch would probably bring $5 to $7, something in that range. So you're in the money on this purchase. Job well done."

So of the four items we bought, the two watches at the end were worth the most. Overall we had $80 to spend and with the value of our items combined, we made $92, a surplus of $12.

I didn't do as well as I had hoped, and while I ended up with mainly junk, I still had a gem of a time.