'Baggage Battles' explores the second life of lost luggage

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If you just returned from a trip but your luggage did not, somebody may be claiming ownership of your stuff right now -- and it's perfectly legal.

Now it's perfectly entertaining, too.

Travel Channel's newest reality spectacle, "Baggage Battles," premiering Wednesday, April 11, lets you tag along with four "auction specialists" who've made a tidy living buying unclaimed baggage at sales around the globe and reselling the contents in their thrift and specialty stores.

Watching these characters heft locked suitcases, prod plastic bags full of jewelry and jockey for prized offerings is as interesting as the dazzling array of items they land. Trash-talking New Yorker Mark Meyer still lives with his folks but has an eye for a buy that belies his young age. Billy Leroy, dashing owner of the Big Apple's iconic Billy's Antiques & Props, talks a gunslinger's game but is curiously cautious with his cash.

It's Englishman Laurence Martin, a freewheeling former aerospace engineer, and his MBA wife, Sally Martin, who frequently steal the show. The Martins favor hippie-meets-rock-star clothing and have an eye for oddities that their counterparts overlook, which they offer at their California curio shop, Studio Antiques, and sometimes keep for themselves. Where Meyer and Leroy scowl and sweat through every sale, the Martins jest, joust and have a wonderful time.

"We want to make money, but for us, the item itself has value," Sally tells Zap2it. "It's not just about what we can turn for a profit."

That philosophy is evident when the Martins purchase an unopened box at London's Greasby's Auctioneers and find inside a handsome silver object hanging from a watch fob. The item -- which both Martins claim as their favorite find to date -- turns out to be a rare telescopic pencil made in the 1880s by Garrard, the company that crafted the British crown jewels.

"The fabulous thing about the pencil is that it came with a bunch of postcards, and from those postcards, we were able to do some research and find a photo of the man who owned it wearing the pencil," says Sally.
Photo/Video credit: Travel Channel
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