Strange Magic: Weird Inheritances Make for Compelling TV

Have you ever accepted an odd artifact from a distant relative and held onto it for sentimental reasons? What if that old bag or dusty tome tucked away in the corner of the attic was actually worth a fortune. A new program on FOX Business Network has launched a new reality series, Strange Inheritance, that explores the family treasure troves that may get overlooked.

On Strange Inheritance, FOX Business Network host Jamie Colby tours the country, meeting families who possess an odd artifact, and uncovering its value. On tonight’s episode, airing at 9 PM EST, Colby encounters a Lavallette family whose ice cream parlor was obliterated by Superstorm Sandy. We spoke with Colby about the program, her favorite family heirloom and the weirdest item she’s found.

Tell me a bit about Strange Inheritance.

We launched just four weeks ago and I’ve been so surprised how many people have stopped me in the street to say, "Hey, you are the Strange Inheritance girl!" Well yes, proudly I am!

How did the idea for this show come about?

FOX Business has always been committed to providing financial news that helps viewers make informed decisions about money. I was a practicing attorney who assisted clients with lots of things including their financial futures. When FOX Business took its reporting a step further to explore unusual inheritances with great stories about families and objects, it seemed so interesting for someone with my background. It has been a great storytelling experience so far.

Did you always have an interest in inheritances or old family items?

I do like to learn the history behind collectibles and many of the items in our shows are fascinating. Some date back generations! I’ve learned so much from the 26 families that have shared their stories with me in the 25 states I’ve visited. I can’t wait for viewers to see some of them, tell their stories and show their inheritances because so many of them have to be seen to be believed.

Do you have any old pieces from your family that you treasure?

I have a number of things from my grandmother but a very special treasure from my mother: A Fruitwood chest. She has one and I have one, it has been in our family now for almost 50 years. It’s very beautiful and every time I look at it, it reminds me of my childhood.

What can we expect from Monday’s episode?

Expect to meet a family who was hit so hard by Superstorm Sandy but did not let any of the damage or destruction dampen their spirit about their community or their contribution to it. It’s also a love story of a couple who refuses to let anything get in the way of their passion for running their small business despite unanticipated setbacks, red tape, financial obligations and employment challenges.

Is this your first time in New Jersey? How did you like it?

It certainly wasn’t my first time in New Jersey as I am well aware of the outlet stores! But it was my first time to the Jersey Shore and that surprised me. If I had known growing up in Forest Hills, New York how beautiful the shore was, I certainly would have come sooner. In fact, I am looking forward to the weather warming up so that I can visit again this summer. I have a feeling it may become my warm weather escape place.

What’s the strangest item you’ve encountered while working on this show?

As if the largest private collection of insects which turned out to be worth $6 million isn’t strange enough, I would have to say a piece of ranchland too small to ranch that ended up uncovering fossils worth in the tens of thousands of dollars and further on a nearby tract of Montana land double dinosaur discovery experts told us was the most valuable dinosaur excavated in our lifetime was also truly strange. But whether you inherit the large doll collection we saw, an amusement park, a Civil War gun, or a bloody sleeve from a famous General at Gettysburg, each of the items we found that were unusual inheritances also often had strange stories to tell, both to the people who inherited them and about the people who cared enough to leave them. Digging deep into those was incredibly rewarding for all of us involved in Strange Inheritance and seems to be resonating with viewers as well.

What can we expect this season?
Expect to meet great American families and see a tremendous amount of our magnificent country as we traveled to 25 states in eight months and we will take you with us. Expect also to learn about some really incredible items representing history and ancestry. And expect to have the opportunity if you know or have a strange inheritance to let me know about it directly at j[email protected].

Click here to leave a comment
Read more From the Editors articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown