Pennsylvania's Treasury Department is hoping Valentines will consider an alternative place to shop for their sweethearts this year.
The treasury is liquidating unclaimed pieces of jewelry, collectibles and other potential Valentine's Day gifts through its eBay store.
A gold-and-diamond tennis bracelet, a gold cameo brooch and even a gold-and-diamond engagement ring all crossed the virtual auction block last week, and treasury spokeswoman Elizabeth Foose said more will go up for sale this week.
We do try to key it to some of the retail seasons when people are looking for these gifts, Foose said. But it is a continuous eBay auction, so people can shop throughout the year.
Most of the items for sale come from safe deposit boxes. Banks are obligated to contact the Treasury Department when payment has lapsed on a safe deposit box and no contact with the box lessee has been made for a number of years.
Some of the property also comes from universities and hospitals – typically it has been lost or abandoned by tenants of those institutions – and some comes from police departments
Stolen items that have gone unclaimed will be turned over to the treasury once a case has been adjudicated.
Of course, she never has to know.
The state treasury must hold onto the unclaimed property for several years while it attempts to identify the owner through direct mailing, newspaper advertisements and other means. Foose noted that if someone can prove a claim to property that has already been sold at auction, the treasury will reimburse the owner.
The state treasury's eBay auction site has taken in more than $4.7 million in sales since it went online in 2004.
Also this month, the department will host its first live auction for bigger ticket items at Morphy Auctions auction house in Denver, Lancaster County.
Foose said the auction Feb. 8 and 9 will feature more valuable gold and silver coins, antique swords from a bank vault box and a historical land patent signed by Benjamin Franklin, among other items.
Some of these items were more valuable and more unique, so we just wanted to make sure we did it right in partnering with a live auction house who can properly evaluate and price these items, Foose said.
Those who cannot attend the auction in person can also bid online at www.morphyauctions.com.