Our childhood memories are peppered with numerous stories about finding hidden treasures. Arabian Nights, Treasure Island, and many such books deal with the joys of finding lost treasure. But as we grow up, we realize that nothing in this world is free and the hope of finding a lost treasure dwindles into nothingness. Nevertheless, there are some people who have first hand experience of discovering treasures. Call it a stroke of luck or patience, here are 10 people who have found hidden treasure.
1. In 2009, Terry Herbert discovered the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalworks on a farmland. The hoard was valued at £3.285 million which was shared between the landowner and Terry.
On 5 July 2009, a man named Terry Herbert was searching a recently ploughed farmland near Hammerwich, Staffordshire with a metal detector. While searching, he discovered gold artifacts buried in the land. Within the next five days he discovered 244 gold items and decided to contact the the Finds Liaison Officer for the Staffordshire and West Midlands Portable Antiquities Scheme. After obtaining permission from the land owner, Fred Johnson, an excavation was done in order to find the rest of the hoard.
In 2009, more about 1,300 objects were recovered. On 25 November 2009, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard and found it to be worth £3.285 million. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery jointly acquired the objects and paid both Terry Herbert, the finder of the hoard, and Fred Johnson, the landowner, the full value of the hoard.(source)
2. While walking their dog, a California couple found buried gold coins worth $11 million in their yard.
In February 2013, a northern California couple were walking their dog in their backyard. While casually walking around they spotted something in the moss under the shadow of an old tree. A closer inspection revealed it to be the edge of a rusty can. After digging it out, they found a hoard of 1,427 gold coins adding up to $31,000. There were six cans in total, containing coins in $5, $10, and $20 US denominations. All the coins were dated from 1847-94.
According to experts, most of the coins found in the can were in uncirculated, mint condition. Some of them were so rare that they fetched more than a million dollars apiece. The net worth of the coins are estimated to be around $11 million.(1,2,3)
3. In 1989, a collector bought a dismal painting encased in a beautiful frame. After taking the frame apart he found a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence behind the painting. It later sold for $2.4 million.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most important documents of United States. It was issued on July 4, 1776, following which thirteen American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain and formed a new nation, the United States of America. Two hundred copies of this document were created at that time. But now, only 26 are known to have survived. In 1989, a collector accidentally bought one such copy from a flea market for just $4.
On the fateful day, the collector went to a Pennsylvania flea market where he liked a gilded and ornately carved frame. He bought it and took it home. Since the painting inside the frame was not to his liking, he decided to discard it. While taking out the painting he found a copy of the Declaration of Independence behind the painting. But the collector did not knew it’s actual value even then. He just kept the document out of curiosity. Some years later when he showed it to his friend who was a collector of historical artifacts. He then became enthusiastic about it and urged the collector to do more research on it. Then the collector contacted Sotheby’s and was surprised to find the real worth of the document. Sotheby’s held an auction for the document and it was sold at $2,420,000.(1,2)
4. Three roommates discovered $40,000 stashed in a sofa that they bought from a thrift store for $20. Later they returned the money to the original owner, a 91-year-old widow.
In early March 2014, three roommates, Cali Guasti, Reese Werkhoven, and Lara Russo bought a used couch from a Salvation Army thrift store. After bringing the couch home, they noticed that the arm cushions looked weird. So one night in April, Werkhoven opened a zipper of one of the arms and found an envelope. The envelope contained $4,000 in bubble-wrapped bills. After this, all three opened the other arm’s zipper and out came another envelope. After searching the whole sofa, the three students found a total of $40,800.
Later, Gausti found another item in the sofa: a deposit slip. The deposit slip had a woman’s name on it. After contacting the woman, they drove to her home. She turned out to be an elderly woman whose family had donated the couch when she was suffering from health problems. The three roommates returned her all the money.(1,2,3)
5. While cleaning his aunt’s attic, a man accidentally found rare baseball, football, and basketball cards, and sold them for about a million dollars.
In 2017, a Tennessee man visited his aunt’s home shortly after his uncle died. To help his aunt clean the house, the man began cleaning the attic. While cleaning, he discovered old football, baseball, and basketball cards. The cards were from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. Nineteen packs were unopened. The most valuable among the lot was the 1948 Bowman baseball cards. It sold for $514,746. Since the cards were stashed away in an old Stroh’s beer box, it has been nicknamed “The Beer Box Find.”(1,2,3)
6. Nine hundred gold coins were discovered in a donated school piano when a piano technician was called to tune it in.
In 1996, a piano made by Broadwood & Sons of London was bought by Graham and Meg Hemmings. In 2016, they donated it to Bishop’s Castle Community College as they were “downsizing” their home. In 2017, a technician was called to tune the 110-year-old piano. While checking the piano, the technician, Martin Backhouse, found that the keys were a bit sluggish. So, he started taking out the keys and spotted a stitched packaging underneath the keys. Thinking that it was moth balls, Backhouse took it out. But the packaging was quite heavy. So, he cut off the end with a penknife and found gold coins inside.
Stunned by the discovery. the technician immediately went to the school office. There he showed the packaging and coins to the headteacher. When they pulled out rest of the keys they discovered 900 gold sovereigns. The history of the piano is being tracked now to find out if the original owner of the packages can be identified.(1,2)
7. A man bought a tank from eBay and decided to restore it. While working on the tank, he discovered five gold bars worth £2m inside the fuel tank.
In 2017, Nick Mead, 55, bought a tank, a Russian T54/69, from eBay for £30,000. He, along with his mechanic friend, Todd Chamberlain, was working on restoring it. While opening the tank he decided to film it so that if they found any weapons inside they can show it to the bomb disposal crews. But instead of weapons, Nick found solid gold bars hidden in the fuel tank. He uncovered five gold bars, each weighing 12 lbs. The net worth of the gold bullion is believed to be around £2 million.(1,2)
8. Two investors bought a Long Island house intending to fix it up and sell it. They found thousands of works by late artist Arthur Pinajian, who used to live there. The paintings are now valued at $30 million.
In 2007, two investors, Thomas Schultz and Larry Joseph, bought a dilapidated bungalow in New York’s Long Island for $300,000. They intended to repair the bungalow and sell it for around $100,000 more than they paid. But when they entered the garage, they found thousands and abstract paintings, created by Armenian-American artist Arthur Pinajian. When the duo contacted the previous owner, the Pinajian family, they were advised to simply throw away the art. But instead the investors agreed to buy the art for $2,500.
After buying the lot, the two men began restoring the collection. In total they now own 70,000 paintings, sketches, and journals of Arthur Pinajian. Even though Pinajian never received critical recognization during his lifetime, his works gained recognition after his death. The works of Pinajian owned by Thomas Schultz and Larry Joseph is now valued at around $30 million.(1,2,3)
9. In 2012, two amateur metal detectors discovered one of the largest hoards of Celectic coins worth £10m buried in a field.
Two amateur metal detectors from New Jersey, Reg Mead and Richard Miles, spent 30 years searching the fields of New Jersey. They began their search when they heard rumors that some silver coins were discovered by a farmer on his land in this area. They got their first success in February 2012 when they found 60 silver coins and a single gold coin.
Hoping they would find more, they carried on their search with a deep scanner metal detector. They hit the jackpot when they found a hoard of ancient coins worth about £10 million. The duo uncovered about 50,000 Celtic silver and gold coins. Experts have estimated that the coins belong to 1st-century BCE and have laid buried for 2,000 years or more. The exact location of this discovery has been kept secret.(1,2)
10. During the taping of “Antiques Roadshow” a man discovered his family heirloom to be a Rodin sculpture worth around $500,000.
In the summer of 2016, a man from Houston, James Keener, came to the Fort Worth Convention Center for a taping of “Antiques Roadshow.” For the show, he brought a sculpture along with him. The sculpture was a family heirloom which he thought was worth a few thousand dollars. But during the show he came to discover that the bronze sculpture is actually the creation of famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The sculpture owned by James Keener is known as “Eternal Spring” and is believed to be worth $400,000 to $500,000.(1,2)