By Cornelia de Bruin
Triplicate staff writer
When Ron Miller decided to check his yard out with a metal detector, he was startled when the machine started beeping away.
"We were curious about the yard, to see if we would find something," said Jane Miller, his wife.
As the metal beeped, Ron called his wife outside, and the couple began digging to see what had caused the machine to register.
About four inches later, they found a dirt-encrusted piece of metal.
After picking off as much dirt as they cautiously could so as not to break the object, it emerged into the light of day: A red toy formula race car, complete with driver at the wheel, shock absorbers intact and all parts still attached.
Marked as a "Penny" toy, stamped "No. 15" and identified as a McLaren Barenissima, the old toy was made in Italy.
The German Penny Toy Company, a firm that manufactured tin collectibles as early as 1880, likely manufactured the car, which the Millers found a couple of months ago.
Sandra Fernandes, who deals in some antiques through Robin's Nest, peeked into her antique pricing books to see what she could find.
In mint condition, with all of its paint and no noticeable damage, the toy could be worth upwards of $200.
Having some paint left, and having the look of a much loved and used toy, the price starts spiraling down.
"Cut it in half if it's not in good condition," Fernandes said. "Cut it in half again because it's Crescent City."
The antiques market is glutted with goods right now, not a happy situation for people who clean out their attics in the hope of finding buried (or boxed away) treasure, Fernandes said.
"The Internet has flooded the market with things, and it's lowered value," she said. "Here, you probably couldn't get $99 for it."
The Millers weren't considering selling their toy car when they called The Daily Triplicate about their find.
Having found it was excitement enough on the early spring day they puttered around with their metal detector.
"He has had the metal detector for years," Jane said. "We used it because it was charged up."