Behind the scenes of Pennsylvania’s Treasury vault auction

(WHTM) – Unclaimed property from the Pennsylvania Treasury was auctioned off today, one of two annual auctions of items in the state treasury vault.

The items that were once lost are now found, but how much are they worth, who decides it, and how does the process work?

Thanks for signing up!

Watch for us in your inbox.

Subscribe Now

This Week in Pennsylvania

Pook and Pook Auctioneers in Downingtown, Chester County handles the unclaimed items before they hit their auction block. Sara Beyer, an apprentice appraiser, gives each item a value before the auction opens.

“It’s fascinating because you really don’t know what’s going to be in, you know, in these bags when you open them,” said Beyer.

Silver and gold, jewels, antiques, rare coins, all of which were abandoned for years. The items are eventually turned over to the Treasury, who will spend three more years looking for the rightful owners.

“We are always super excited to see what this property will sell for at auction,” said PA Treasury Vault Manager Lori Hetrick. “You never know what somebody is looking for and it’s always a surprise. It’s almost like Christmas every day.”

Punxsutawney Phil surprises, starts family with 2 baby groundhogs

A rare pair of theatre glasses were appraised at $200 and sold for $1,300 at the auction.

“Auction estimates are typically a little more conservative, but you just never know,” said Beyer. “I mean, you never know who the audience is. And we’re fortunate because this is an online sale.”

The state’s general fund is also fortunate because it gets the money, the second best option to the treasurer.

“I would prefer to get it back to its rightful owners, because you know what, it’s not the state’s money. It’s the hard-working Pennsylvanians,” said State Treasurer Stacy Garrity.

State Treasurer helps veterans by finding rightful owners of priceless military medals

If rightful owners come forward after their item is sold, they’ll get the auction price in cash, a forever guarantee. Pook and Pook also gets a guaranteed winner with 12% of the auction price and 26% in addition from the winner. The remaining auction price money goes to the state.

The spring auction is a kind of spring cleaning for the state treasury vault.

“Although we have the largest working vault in the nation, we are constantly getting items in,” said Garrity. “And so we do have to free up some space.”

Last fall the auction raised $298,000 and officials are hoping to top it this time around.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to ABC27.