Imagine you’re out walking your dog, and you see something glittering out of the corner of your eye. You initially assume it’s something mundane, but, curious, you investigate. It’s not mundane. Not at all. It’s looks like an ancient ring. You have it evaluated and discover the ring’s history—it’s changed hands from queens to noblewomen, eventually going off the radar. You’ve found treasure! As amazing as it sounds, many people all over the world stumble upon extraordinary finds.
The Declaration of Independence
When the Declaration of Independence was originally issued, 200 copies were printed. Of those 200, only a few have ever been found and verified. One of those copies was discovered in 1989, very much on accident. A man went into a thrift store looking for a nice picture frame. He found one that fit his criteria, paid $4 for the frame, and took it home. When he took apart the frame to put in his picture, he made the discovery of a lifetime. Behind the canvas and inside the frame was copy number 25 of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. He went on to sell the document for nearly $2.5 million. Not bad for a four-dollar frame!
There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a tool halfway through a project. A farmer in the small village of Hoxne, in Suffolk, England, knows that there can be an upside to losing a tool, however. After misplacing a hammer in his field in the fall of 1992, the farmer used a friend’s metal detector to help locate the missing tool. But to his surprise, instead of a hammer, he found one of the largest treasure hoards in British history. More than 15,000 Roman bronze, gold, and silver coins and hundreds of gold and silver spoons, forks, pieces of jewelry and statues were unearthed. The farmer and his friend who loaned him the metal detector split the money from the hoard, earning almost $3 million each. This spectacular collection can now be seen at the British Museum.
The Venus de Milo
In 1820, a farmer on a small Aegean island ventured into his field looking for some white stones with which to construct a wall. But in his search for stones, he found something far more valuable. With the help of a French naval officer who happened to be exploring nearby ruins on the island, the farmer found the Venus de Milo in two large pieces. Once word spread of their discovery, another French sailor soon arrived, and paid the men for the statue. The remaining parts of the statue were never found, but enough of the remarkable piece was discovered that the Louvre eventually bought the statue, where it remains one of the museum’s main attractions to this day.
The Terra-Cotta Army
A Chinese farmer in the 1970s wanted a new well on his property. So he began to dig. But instead of hitting groundwater as he’d expected, he found an underground cavern filled with 8,000 perfectly preserved, unique statues of ancient warriors. He’d stumbled upon the site of the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the man who united the warring factions of China in the second century BC. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13, Emperor Qin ordered this terra-cotta army to be constructed to protect his tomb upon his death. The whole site is now a museum, open to the public.
The Saddle Ridge Hoard
The most recent of all discoveries on this list, the Saddle Ridge Hoard stands out as one of the most incredible. In February of 2013, a couple was out walking their dog on their rural property in the gold country near the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. While out on their regular walk, they spotted what looked like an old, rusted metal can. Curious, the couple went over to investigate and realized that the can wasn’t an empty, worthless piece of trash at all. The can was full of nearly 15,000 gold coins. Though the face value of the coins was just under $30,000, the coins sold for millions at auction.
You don’t have to be Indiana Jones to find lost treasure. Just keep your eyes open, and have a curious mind. You never know what you may discover. After all, if treasure troves and ancient armies can be hidden beneath lived-in places for centuries, who knows what’s still waiting to be unearthed?
Bellevue Rare Coins specializes in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business located in Bellevue and Lynnwood. We also buy and sell silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us for a free evaluation.