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State auctions off old coins, precious metals, other treasures

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Chief Published: February 15, 2017 10:27 AM

COLUMBUS -- Are you in the market for three Spanish 1000 Pesetas bank notes?

Or maybe 10 Indian head pennies, from various dates?

What about that 1943 choice, uncirculated Washington silver quarter that you've been wanting, plus an empty coin album to go with it?

Those items are among hundreds of lots of old coins, precious metals, stamps, pocket watches and other miscellaneous treasures that state officials will auction off later this month.

All were formerly kept in safe deposit boxes that were long forgotten or abandoned and have gone unclaimed, in some cases, for decades.

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The Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Unclaimed Funds announced the two-day sale Tuesday, the fourth auction of its kind for the agency and the first since 1998, according to spokeswoman Lindsey LeBerth.

"Despite our outreach efforts, fewer people are claiming their safekeeping boxes than are being reported to us," she said in an email message Tuesday. "The purpose is to make more room for items -- space gets limited, but safe deposit boxes are reported each year."

The state maintains a website (com.ohio.gov/unfd), where residents can check to see if any forgotten payments, security deposits or bank deposit box contents have been posted.

According to LeBerth, 600-plus safe deposit boxes are abandoned each year, on average. Generally, the owners stop paying rent for the boxes; after several years, the contents are reported to the state, which holds them until an owner can be identified.

Unclaimed items from 1968 through 2000 will be part of this month's sale, excluding stocks, bonds and money that is currently in circulation -- "If I can go out and spend that money at the grocery store, it's not being auction," LeBerth said.

The proceeds from the auction will be deposited into a state account, in the original owner's name, less a 15 percent commission that will be paid to the auction company.

The sale will take place Feb. 23 and 24, with live bidding starting at 9 a.m. each day at the Apple Tree Auction Center, 1625 W. Church St., in Newark. There's also a process for online or absentee bidding.

More than 2,000 lots of items are slated for sale. And an added bonus: A new state law exempts the sales tax on many of the items being sold.

Additional information, including a list of items to be sold, is available online at www.appletreeauction.com.

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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