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Treasure hunter had good head on his shoulders

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Treasure Trader is Indiana Jones, minus the rolling boulders, aliens and savage tribesmen. The late Billy Jamieson, an eccentric antique treasure-hunter from Toronto, was the real deal.

At age 57, Jamieson passed away from a sudden heart attack in 2011 -- after Season 1 of his series had largely finished shooting. The producersö with the help of his fiancée Jessica Phillips, were able to put together eight complete episodes, and the series' summer run (it airs on History Television tonight at 9 p.m.) has showcased Jamieson's unique personality and talents.

The art-treasure lover never seems to meet a mummy, a tribal mask or a samurai sword he doesn't want to cart back home with him. His devotion and enthusiasm explain why Jamieson was given the show to begin with: He loves his work and he's made for the camera -- a veritable rock star in the world of ancient treasures and oddities.

The network itself sums up Jamieson's larger-than-life persona like this: "Part P.T. Barnum, part Indiana Jones, part Mick and Keith."

Phillips also shares the limelight on the reality series. With her tattoos and striking blond hair, she's the perfect match for the larger-than-life Treasure Trader.

In the first of back-to-back episodes tonight, the couple travels to Paris to negotiate the purchase of a rare Egyptian mummy -- and also makes a shocking find in a Parisian antiquities market: a real, shrunken human head. In the second outing, the duo travels to New York to sell off an Egyptian collection -- potentially the biggest deal of Jamieson's career.

In an interview with Huffington Post earlier this year, Phillips spoke about the show's appeal: "There's something for everyone. It's pop culture, it's history, it's ethnography, it's anthropology, it's adventure. When you explain pieces, that fear of the unknown disappears. That's the beauty of this show. At first, if there is something that someone's not sure of, like a mummy or a shrunken head, they get to understand a little more about it. It's about educating."

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 26, 2012 E5

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