- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Gold, silver, diamonds and dentures all are among the thousands of items culled from abandoned safe-deposit boxes and turned over to the city's custody each year.
While the fake teeth remain in a vault near Union Station unauctionable, organizers explained more than 380 lots will be sold off to the highest bidders on Thursday at the D.C. Office of Finance and Treasury's annual unclaimed safe-deposit box auction.
Yesterday, antique aficionados mingled with lunch-break lookers at Adam A. Weschler and Son's on E Street NW, previewing what many called an eclectic catalog.
Simple gold cufflinks attracted one woman's attention, while others buzzed over a fingernail-sized cubic zirconium studded ring. A collector knowingly inspected Liberty Head dollars and other vintage coins with a pocket magnifier at the same time as a couple entered the display floor, tempted to attend an unclaimed-goods auction for the first time.
Rosemary Coskey of Arlington said she was surprised by the quality and range of the items. "This is a bonanza for jewelers. I can't believe people would leave these things behind," Mrs. Coskey said.
Forgotten by owners who have died, disappeared, or stopped paying their leases, unclaimed property is held for three years, after which time it is turned over to the city.
The Office of Finance and Treasury works to reconnect both priceless and worthless items with their rightful owners. Newspaper advertisements are taken out, and a Web site (https://cfo.dc.gov) provides a searchable database of abandoned items.
Elliott Kindred, the director of the unclaimed-property department, often takes a personal role in seeking out rightful owners.
Last year, stock certificates worth $1.2 million were returned to the anonymous heir of an elderly safe-deposit box owner, Mr. Kindred said.
This year, a local teen was reunited with $38,000 left to her by her grandfather, after a friend saw her name in an advertisement in a local paper.
Mr. Kindred said he expects several of the lots to be pulled from the auction this week, as items are matched to their owners.
Proceeds from the auction go to a special account used to compensate further owners who come forward. According to Mr. Kindred, last year's auction raised more than $40,000, and this year goods are appraised at almost twice that. But the auctioned items amount to only a fraction of the $100 million in unclaimed funds overall.
Goods may be previewed today and Wednesday, before the bidding begins at 10 a.m. Thursday.


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