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‘America’s Top Buyer’ on the hunt in the Gem State

A new web-based show is spending the week in Pocatello shooting its second episode.

Thousands of dollars worth of treasure has made its way through the Hampton Inn in Pocatello this week as America’s Top Buyer looks for local gems.

“It’s kind of a modern-day tale of these treasure hunters, traveling around really as a family, along with some other appraisers and buyers who have real specialties of what they like to do, what they like to find,” host Brent Johns explained.

Members of the crew sat down with locals to look at the items they’ve brought in.

“Large, large collections of gold coins that we’ve found. Things that we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars that we’ve been able to take a look at, some of which we’ve been able to buy,” Johns said.

Other items like books, jewelry and even historical tapestries have also come through the doors.

“Pretty neat just to actually be around something like that,” Johns said, “because, to me, that’s like something that should probably be in a museum.”

James Duke, the founder of America’s Top Buyer and the head of the family the show follows, is a self-proclaimed modern-day treasure hunter. Duke began collecting when he was 12 but slowed down in his teens and twenties, picking it back up in 2003 when he needed some extra cash.

“We needed diapers, we didn’t need any more coins,” he said. “So I started selling some of my coins, started realizing a profit and I thought this was a whole lot better than working in the corporate world.”

Since then, Duke became a national rare coin buyer and increased the size of his team significantly, even doing about $2 million a month in volume at one point.

But he put things on hold in 2012 and has been working on the idea for the show ever since.

“Now, we’re gonna have our own TV series. Starting out online, but we look to go to the networks as soon as we can.”

And with finds like an 1849 $5 LDS gold piece, valued around $50,000, the group is excited for people to see what they’ve got.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Duke said. “You know, to be able to travel with your family, have fun, and make money doing it, I mean, that’s America.”

The show won’t just be about the items the group encounters — it will also feature their traveling adventures and points of interest in the cities they stop in.

The shows first episode, filmed in Boise, will be posted on their website and YouTube page this Sunday.

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