The Case of the Hidden Drawer
Estate sales can be a lot of fun, especially if you love the thrill of hunting for valuable antiques like Emil Knodell who would frequent weekend sales. He was thrilled to nab an antique chest of drawers from the late 1800s that had a lot of character and history. But when trying to get the unwieldy piece into his truck it sounded like a “slot machine,” Jeffrey Allen, of Premier Estate Sales Network, who was trying to help him, told the Houston Chronicle. A hidden drawer that looked like it was a part of furniture turned out to be full of bling from Civil War medals to diamond rings. Hitting pay dirt like that may make some people find the nearest auction house, but Knodell was more excited to return the treasure to the family that owned the chest. “I bought the chest of drawers; I didn’t buy (the secret contents),” he told the newspaper. “The deceased man’s family needed to have the opportunity to decide what they wanted to do with the items.” Here are some tips for hiding your own valuables. Learn how to improve attic ventilation—it’s a project you can do yourself!
Historical Shopping Lists
Sometimes even an antique shopping list can have historical value. A 400-year-old scrap of paper was discovered listing pewter spoons, a frying pan, and “greenfish.” The paper was wedged under the floorboards of Knole, a historic country home in Kent, England. A volunteer with the archaeology team at Knole that was restoring the house made the discovery. Two 17th century letters were also found under another attic floorboard and stuffed into the ceiling. The Smithsonian notes the full text reads: Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest. It dates back to 1633! Are you keeping old shopping lists? Find out how to get rid of clutter that you might not want to have around for 400 years. Fool thieves by stashing your valuables inside this hidden bookcase box.
The Unsinkable Titanic
Gary Whyte of Mountainside, New Jersey was cleaning out his mother’s house after she died when he came across what looked like some old newspapers she’d stashed away. “I found a large envelope with two original newspapers. One was the New York Daily News with the day one story on JFK’s assassination,” says Whyte. “The other was a full New York Times 1912 newspaper with the ‘Sinking of the Titanic.'” That full New York Times newspaper was recently framed by the Liberty Science Center and placed in the Titanic Exhibit for seven months. Items from the doomed ship have fascinated collectors for years. One of the most heart wrenching scenes from the 1997 James Cameron movie Titanic (and there were many) features the band playing on as the doomed ship sinks. This is based on true survivor recollections about of the disaster. The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic, Wallace Hartley, was rumored to have been found strapped to his body as he floated out to sea. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the sentimental and historical instrument was unearthed in an attic. Rigorous testing by Henry Aldridge and Son proved the violin to be Hartley’s. In 2013, it sold for $1.7 million. A letter Wallace Hartley wrote to his parents during his first day on the Titanic also sold for $185,968.80. “This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her,” he wrote. “We have a fine band & the boys seem very nice.” Don’t miss these secrets to scoring the best deal, according to antiquing experts. Plus: Learn the 10 places burglars always look first.