Judy Poltash entered the Best Western Merry Manor Inn in South Portland on Tuesday clutching a bag, accompanied by her friend Marjorie Bryant.
The Kennebunk women were among those hoping to sell old jewelry, coins and other treasures at the Buying Road Show, a five-day event sponsored by Anderson, Carter, Bascou & Associates Estate Buyers.
After an advertising blitz that included several full-page ads in The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, the company set up shop in a wing of the hotel on Route 1. By late morning, the event was drawing a steady flow of people.
“I have never done anything like this before, but I had old jewelry I hadn’t worn in years,” said Poltash, adding that she and Bryant are jewelry aficionados.
“We are kind of flashy for Maine,” said Bryant.
It isn’t easy to have a thing for bling in Maine, they said.
“Because here, you are wearing it under five layers of clothes,” Poltash said with a sigh.
Like other sellers, Poltash and Bryant were ushered to a desk in one of the rooms, where Poltash dumped out a small heap of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, her husband’s college class ring — she had his blessing to sell it — and what she described as a 1930s-era brooch that had belonged to her mother.
“This is definitely postwar, from the ’50s or ’60s,” said the appraiser, Arlene Abelow.
Bryant rolled her eyes in a show of moral support.
Abelow quickly divided the heap into smaller piles before homing in on the gold.
Poltash said she wasn’t going to sell unless Abelow came up with prices that were greater than what she paid for the items.
Abelow examined the items with a jeweler’s loupe, administered a few chemical tests to check the purity of the gold and weighed each item. Then she rattled off the prices: $1,050 for two earrings made out of gold coins, $114 for a gold and onyx bracelet, $138 for her husband’s college ring, $760 for a gold bracelet.
Poltash took back several rings, a Cartier pendant and several other items, which she said were undervalued. “I would rather give them away as presents,” she said.
The Buying Road Show company has offices in Pasadena, Calif., Santa Fe, N.M., and Ohio. It has held similar shows around the country.
Some local buyers say sellers should be wary of traveling outfits. They say that unlike local buyers, the traveling operations don’t offer fair prices.
“What these people are doing is looking for something rare and unusual and paying very little for it,” said Malcolm Logan, vice president and part-owner of Nelson Rarities Inc. in Portland.
Traveling gold buyers don’t need licenses to operate in Maine, although some cities and towns may have ordinances regulating them, said Anne Head, commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation.
With a wad of cash in hand, Poltash said she was satisfied and would probably spend her earnings on replacement jewelry.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]