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Unclaimed property auction returns to Columbia

Friday, September 30, 2011 | 7:05 p.m. CDT; updated 4:02 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Elizabeth Oligschlaeger, left, shows coins to Tom Foster on Monday, the night before bidding at the Missouri unclaimed property auction at the Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia. Thousands of coins are up for auction ranging from pennies to gold Double Eagles predicted to go for at least $2,000 a piece.

*Correction: The Missouri Unclaimed Property Auction begins at 9 a.m. on October 4. An earlier version of this story stated the wrong time.

COLUMBIA — What do a 3 1/2-cent stamp, a baseball autographed by Ozzie Smith and a collection of coins featuring the busts of America's founding fathers have in common?

All of these items have been abandoned and will be up for sale at the Missouri Unclaimed Property Auction next week.

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For the second year in a row, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel will bring the auction to Columbia. The auction will start at *9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center. Auctioneer James Johnston will return to conduct the auction.

Zweifel is the keeper of more than $600 million worth of unclaimed property. The property accumulates when banks turn over safety deposit boxes to the state treasurer when they have been unattended for five or more years, Zweifel's spokesman Jon Galloway said.

Normally, these items are stored in vaults in the basement of the Harry S Truman Building in Jefferson City. When the amount of unclaimed property exceeds the space used for storage, the state auctions off property to make room.

More than 100 banks contributed more than 1,200 safety deposit boxes with unclaimed property to Zweifel’s office in 2011, according to a news release from the treasurer’s office.

“A large majority of the items being auctioned are gold, silver and collectible coins," Galloway said in the news release. "Also being auctioned are signed sports memorabilia, silverware and jewelry. These items represent less than 1 percent of the $600 million held in more than 3.5 million owner accounts.”

Before putting items up for sale, Zweifel tries to reunite the property with the owner. In 2010, Missouri became the second state to offer email notifications to inform people that their property had been turned over to the state government. The state also maintains an unclaimed property database. Unclaimed property is always returned at no cost.

The proceeds from the items auctioned are kept under the name of the original owner and then remain held in trust by the treasurer’s office.

The items up for auction can be previewed between 6 and 8 p.m. Monday.

Registration on the day of the auction is required for those who intend to bid.

This year the treasurer's office will be able to process credit card transactions. American Express, Discovery, MasterCard and Visa can be used to make purchases for a small fee.


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