Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 23, 2012

Roadshow welcomes gold and all types of antiques

The Great Canadian Roadshow has come to the Yukon looking for gold, but they’ll take your antiques as well.

By Max Leighton on February 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm


Photo by Vince Fedoroff

YUKON HISTORY ILLUMINATED – Andrew Fedurko, an employee with The Great Canadian Road Show examines a kerosene lamp from CP Rail brought in from a seller in Whitehorse.

The Great Canadian Roadshow has come to the Yukon looking for gold, but they’ll take your antiques as well.

The roadshow is a touring antiques and collectables business, and are wrapping up their tour of the North this week in Whitehorse.

In place of the cameras and announcers one might expect are Andrew Fedurko and his partner Scott Elliot, two antique dealers from Toronto for the rest of the week they’ll be in a small room at the Gold Rush Inn talking to locals about the value of their collectables and cutting cheques to those who want to sell. 

So far, business has been steady.

Yesterday afternoon, Frances McGuire sat and watched as Fedurko scraped a small chunk of gold she’d brought him against a piece of stone and squeezed a few drops of acid onto the left over dust.

“Looks like it’s 22k,” he tells her. “We can give you about $250, $300 for this.”

She declines. The gold was given to her by a friend in Dawson City and the sentimental value is worth more to her than the money.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to come in just to have their items appraised,” says Fedurko. “We’re happy to provide that service.”

They win some and they lose some.

The business works like a travelling pawn shop, offering free appraisals for anything from antiques to precious metals, with the hope that once the customer knows the value of their item, they’ll be inclined to take a cheque on the spot.

No one is turned away. Because for every free appraisal they do, the next could result in their next big sale.

The team uses its own expertise, past sale records and Internet data to come up with a value, which their network of over 1,000 collectors are willing to pay, then they buy the items on their behalf.

“I will present you with the highest offer, so you can make a comparison yourself,” said Fedurko. “And hopefully you can leave here with a big cheque.”

The roadshow travels throughout Canada and recently returned from a trip to the Maritimes. They are currently on a tour of the North, which has taken them through Prince George, Grande Prairie and Yellowknife.

They’ve been in Whitehorse since Tuesday.

“We’ve been all over the country, pretty much everywhere except for Nunavut, and who knows, we may even head there some day,” says Fedurko.

Wherever they go, they rely on locals to dig through their closets, basements and attics, anywhere where their old, forgotten, neglected items may be and bring them in for cash.

“We’re basically a mixture of (popular reality shows) Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars,” says Terry Koutros, vice-president and co-owner of the Great Canadian Roadshow, told the Star from Toronto yesterday.

Koutros started the business about two years ago with partner Borris Shreyberg.

They say they do it out of a passion for antiques and the material history of the country.

“We like to say we’ve been to every small town in Canada,” he says. “We’ve seen some beautiful places and met interesting people. It’s interesting to see what people hold to their hearts and collect.”

During that time, he’s seen some very interesting items.

“We’ve seen some of the most unique and oddest things you can imagine,” he says.

Old musical instruments, especially guitars, are popular items for collectors, he says. So are old coins, toys from the 1950s and earlier as well as sports and movie memorabilia.

“In Stoney Plain, west of Edmonton, someone brought in a fossilized mammoth tusk,” says Koutros. “It was found on the ground near Drumheller, Alberta. He brought in a 30,000 year old fossil, that was 6 ft long, all ivory. It’s currently on tour throughout Alberta. Another guy brought in a Russian hockey stick with all the names of a whole Canadian Olympic team signed on it.”

Some past items have crossed into the realm of the bizarre.

“One guy in Ontario brought in a life sized rubber dummy of Superman,” says Koutros. “One of the Superman movies was shot near Niagara Falls and the gentleman brought it in, and it was worth a significant amount. It’s part of movie history.”

Koutros once even purchased a Victorian era prosthetic leg.

Antiques and collectables are big business.

“We know what collectors are willing to pay,” says Koutros. “There is a little mark-up on our end, they pay us a fee to be part of the dealership, then there is a mark up on the antique itself.”

“It’s a business,” Koutros says. “And we’re in it for profit as well.”

The key to operating the business is being able to tell the difference between trash and treasure.

“We’ve been doing this for several years, with no complaints yet,” he says. “People have a tendency to overvalue items because they’ve been holding onto them for a long time. Sometimes people find that it’s just not worth that much, and we have to be the bearers of bad news, of course, sometimes they are surprised and they end up going home with a big cheque.”

Some higher value items include military antiques, old toys and of course, jewelry and precious metals.

Coins are the most common high-value item to have sitting around the house, says Koutros.

He’s seen people bring in everything from gold British Sovereigns, worth thousands of dollars, to an original 20-cent piece from Upper Canada, minted in 1858, which sold for about $500.

The 1948 Canadian silver dollar is one of the more common high-value finds.

“That year they didn’t make many of them, only 18,000, and that makes them rare and of high value to collectors. They can go for several thousand dollars and they are out there. Sometimes these coins are just sitting around in jars and boxes in people’s houses,” says Koutros.

So far, Whitehorse hasn’t presented many interesting items, but the buyers remain hopeful.

“Someone did come by with an old kerosene lantern from CP Rail,” says Fedurko. “It’s got a wooden handle and lots of embossing. It’s really a beautiful piece, and we’ll sell it to a collector.”

They also have a tip about a local Coca Cola memorabilia collection, valued at about $15,000, which they plan to investigate.

The pair say they are holding out for gold and for items from the Klondike Gold Rush, which they would like to take home to Toronto when they leave the territory next week.

They’ll be in Whitehorse until Sunday at the Gold Rush Inn and will be accepting drop-ins all week.

CommentsAdd a comment

Rita Poon

Feb 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Dropped by the show twice this week, must say that the guys there are great and extremely friendly. I brought in a coin collection left to me a few years ago, I had it looked at in the past but was just curious about what it was worth today. I also sold a lot of broken gold and silver chains. It was nice to get paid right away for things that were just sitting around the house. The room was a little cramped the first time but today they were in a larger, much nicer room!

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