We all talk sometimes about needing to get work done around the house, but we almost always find ways to avoid it. After reading this story, however, you’ll be more eager than ever to start tearing up those old floorboards. Because this is a story of hidden treasure discovered at home, and it certainly beats finding a few nickels down the back of the couch.
On October 19, 2016, Imgur user “branik12” shared his amazing discovery with the online community. The 35-year-old DIY enthusiast was finally getting around to revamping his family home. And, as he’d already finished the first and second floors of his property, he decided it was high time to modernize the cellar.
So, heading down below, branik12 began peeling back the walls of his 1940s property. At first, there wasn’t much to see – just a few random names and faces scribbled on the wall. Perhaps the children of a previous owner, making their mark?
Judging by the photos he uploaded, though, it was really no wonder the homeowner was so desperate to get started with remodeling his basement. After all, the walls were absolutely covered in what he jokingly referred to as “wall art.” Somehow, we’re not sure it would qualify for submission to a gallery.
As he examined the walls further, he noticed something particularly distressing among the “artwork.” Yes, along with the various names and crude pictures scrawled over the walls, there were also a handful of what appeared to be swastikas. At this point, he once again noted that the house was built in the 1940s, potentially drawing a link to World War II.
In any case, next up was tackling the basement ceiling. Of course, pulling out all of the material to reveal the original beams created a whole lot of mess. But out of the imploding dust cloud, something hidden in one of the wooden panels caught branik12’s beady eye.
Yes, carefully tucked away between two beams was a green-and-gray tin box. And while obviously itching to find out what it contained, branik12 was also keen to share his discovery online. Writing on Imgur he reported, “Cool! A treasure. I must document this for Imgur. It’s about time I contributed to the community.”
First, though, he made sure to capture the moment as if he’d been documenting it in real-time. You see, branik12 admitted he actually staged the photos you see here. He placed the box back where he originally found it, then snapped two images. He used his camera’s flash for one of the photos, hoping to better highlight his strange discovery.
But what was inside the dusty box? And would its contents actually contribute to his life in some way? Well, removing the mysterious object from the beams, he took it outside for closer inspection. He was soon joined by his wife, too, and the curious couple made a breathtaking discovery that would change their lives forever.
Tied together by a piece of string, the box was in almost perfect condition. It did, however, have some wear and tear on the handle – perhaps from the previous owner carrying it around? At this point, though, the couple didn’t care. They just wanted to know what was inside.
But, somewhat oddly, branik12 then decided to search his home for a banana. No, his new discovery hadn’t made him suddenly hungry. In fact, he was trying to find another object to place aside the box for a size comparison. Unfortunately, though, he only managed to find what looks like a baby-sized banana toothbrush. Still, it helped him to document the whole process.
With the banana toothbrush in place, he began to unravel the string that was holding the tin together. It’s difficult to imagine the level of anticipation branik12 must have been feeling at that moment. The box could really have contained anything. All he knew was that it likely hadn’t been opened for some time.
If branik12 was about to discover treasure in his home, though, he certainly wouldn’t have been the first. For instance, in 2015 a Phoenix couple discovered a 50-year-old safe behind their kitchen wall, containing – among other things – $50,000 in cash. Two years earlier, the owners of a Norwegian home found a long-lost Vincent Van Gogh painting in their attic.
Anticipating its contents, branik12 theorized on Imgur as to what the box would reveal. He wrote, “It has something inside, but not heavy like coins or gold bars. Might get lucky though. Could be old sports cards?” That wouldn’t be a bad discovery: vintage soccer and baseball cards can certainly fetch a pretty penny. Finally, then, he opened the lid.
As he prised open the tin box, he found what appeared to be wax paper covering the secret stash. Most certainly it had been hidden away for ages, perhaps even decades. In fact, as branik12 later explained in a post comment, the first owner of the 1940s house was a lady in her 50s. So could she have left a little something inside the box, packed it away and forgotten about it?
Whatever the case, branik12 found that the contents were wrapped in a sheet of vintage newspaper. This page from the Cleveland Plain Dealer featured a ’50s pinup being taught how to bowl with the help of some dapper-looking guys. Classic advertising straplines claimed that “a light smoke is better for you” and that “baldness may be prevented.”
The other side of the retro newspaper featured an equally eclectic mix of stories and ads. For example, the top left of the broadsheet included a report on the Stanley Cup, which it described as “professional hockey’s most treasured prize.” If branik12 had known what he was about to find inside the tin, he might have considered the wording of that story strangely prescient.
Of course, the reporter responsible for writing that story could never have known how the paper would one day be used. A close-up image from branik12 revealed that this particular edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer was published on March 25, 1951. And he subsequently surmised, “This must be near the time the box was hidden.”
Although historically interesting, the newspaper wasn’t actually the star find, however. That’s because behind it lay three packages, each individually wrapped in wax paper. And the green tinge coming through the wax definitely hinted at the prospect of a stack of dollar bills. In fact, branik12 feverishly predicted the discovery on Imgur. He wrote, “There’s money in here! I am guessing a thousand [dollars] or more! Is that a $20?”
And, after carefully unwrapping the contents of the first batch, his predictions proved right. Inside was an enormous wad of early-century $20 bills. Supposing that the other two packages contained the same, then, branik12 estimated his potential haul. He wrote, “There may be a couple of thousand here. We are freaking out. This doesn’t happen to us!”
But the couple’s good luck was only just beginning. Unwrapping the next package, they found that it didn’t contain any $20 bills. No, lucky for them, it was in fact full to the brim with $50 notes. And the third batch? You guessed it: a nice chunky wad of $100 bills, all in pretty neat condition. Jackpot!
Amazed, the pair quickly totted up the amount. The final tally? They believed they were sitting on a fortune of about $20,000. Not bad for an afternoon’s work. But then on closer inspection, branik12 realized that all of the bills were early issues, dating from 1928 to 1934. Moreover, some had brown markings on them or were stamped “gold certificate.”
Could these bills be rare? If that were the case, there was a good chance that some of them may actually be worth more than their face value. For instance, bills with desirable serial numbers – such as identical or sequential digits – typically command eye-watering fees. Some gold certificate bills, meanwhile, have also become collectables after being made redundant in 1933.
So, after spending the following week getting the bills appraised and speaking with lawyers about what to do next, branik12 went back to work in the basement. And just as he thought his excitement was wearing off, he discovered another box tucked away in the ceiling! What were the chances?
And although it was pretty much identical to the first box, branik12 claimed that this one felt a lot heavier. Would this be full of cash, too? First things first, though, branik12 set the box aside and cleared the ceiling to see if there were any more boxes lying around. Alas, this was to be the second and last discovery.
While the boxes were practically identical to the naked eye, there was one slight difference between them. This box had vents on the side, allowing branik12 a glimpse at what awaited him inside. And while that narrow view tantalizingly teased a similar discovery to the first box, he couldn’t open it just yet.
You see, branik12 wanted to wait for his wife to come home, so that the lucky couple could prize open the box together. In the meantime, he set about cleaning the box, removing the thick layer of dust that had enveloped it over the years. All that was left to do then was wait, the hours presumably feeling like an eternity.
Eventually, though, branik12’s wife did return home from work, and the pair quickly set about opening the new box. Astonishingly, this container was once again filled to the brim with cash. Yes, $20 bills were tucked behind yet more vintage newspaper, neatly stacked together and filling the entire space of the box.
Staggeringly, after the couple selling off some of the rarer bills, the total haul came to about $45,000. Of course, the pair posted their story of good fortune on Imgur, too, and while some members – jealous perhaps – thought it could be a hoax, the majority were delighted for the couple. One hilarious member commented, “Nice haul. All I ever found was a dozen dead squirrels and a nasty old lady wig!”
The couple have now paid the money into their bank, and it will go towards repaying their mortgage. They had even been hopeful of relocating to a country home some time in 2017. So, what was perhaps once one ageing lady’s rainy day fund has now changed their lives forever. And while the pair plan to move, the mystery of why exactly the money was originally hidden away will likely remain.
Sometimes, the treasure hiding in someone’s basement is much less obvious than a stack of cash. Take this woman from Salt Lake City, for instance, who took an old, dusty book that she’d been keeping in her basement on Antiques Roadshow. She seemingly had no idea how much it was worth – but the expert’s estimation floored her.
Ken Sanders has been an appraiser on popular daytime TV show Antiques Roadshow for a decade. According to the Deseret News, to him the meaning of a rare book is “a book I have and you don’t.” But then a woman from Salt Lake City showed him something astounding.
Sanders is a significant figure in the world of antiques. Best known for his appearances on Antiques Roadshow, he’s a true fountain of knowledge, particularly when it comes to rare books. Indeed, he’s been passionate about books ever since he was a teenager.
By the time that Sanders was 17, he had already started his impressive book collection. And from there he continued to grow his portfolio of rare books even further. However, he also spent his time chasing book thieves – and even playing a part in some high-profile sting operations.
So, there’s no doubt that he knows his stuff when it comes to books. And that’s why Sanders is such an important part of Antiques Roadshow. People turn up specifically to seek out his expertise when they think they might have found something valuable.
And in one particular episode, which aired in April 2017, Sanders was presented with something very special indeed. The item was brought to him by a woman who had no idea of its value. Straight away, though, Sanders could see that she was in possession of something remarkable.
The woman appeared on the Salt Lake City episode of the show and told Sanders that she had found a book in the basement. It belonged to her great-grandmother, whom the lady described as having been religious. Looking more closely at the book, it was clear that it was extremely old.
The pages of the tiny book were discolored and a little tattered, but an inscription at the front was nonetheless clear to see. It turned out that the message had been written by her great-grandmother, when the book itself was already 104 years old.
The antique book had obviously been passed down for a few generations before it finally appeared on Antiques Roadshow. And Sanders was very surprised to see it. “I was quite shocked when [the lady] brought it up to the table,” he told the Deseret News in April 2017.
The reason that Sanders was so surprised was the rarity of the type of book in front of him. He could immediately tell that it was a selection of hymns; and looking at the front of the book, Sanders noted that it had been published way back in 1844.
Then, having studied the book more closely, Sanders began to tell the woman a little more about it. He started by stating that it was a hymn book for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Then, he went on to reveal how rare it was to see one of them these days.
Sanders said that there was one main reason why book experts didn’t often see hymnals dating as far back as 1844. He explained how the members of the LDS church didn’t tend to keep their hymn books in circulation after they’d become a little tattered from general usage.
Instead, they would usually throw the old hymnals away when they didn’t look quite so pristine anymore and then print new ones. As a result, the very first LDS hymn books have become hard to get hold of all these years later.
And, of course, the way that the world of antiques generally works is that rare items tend to be worth a lot. Still, few people could have expected Sanders to give the woman in possession of the LDS hymn book quite such an astounding figure at the end of his evaluation.
Given that only a few hymnals from the 1830s and 1840s have survived, Sanders was bound to give the woman a generous estimation for the value of her hymn book. Moreover, it was printed in Bellow Falls, Vermont, which made it even more valuable.
But when the book expert revealed the hymn book’s true worth, the woman was totally overwhelmed. Sanders told her that the LDS hymnal was likely to fetch between $40,000 and $50,000 if she sold it. He was able to estimate the figure based upon the sale of a similar hymnal only a few years earlier.
When the woman heard how much her antique was likely to be worth, she covered her mouth with her hands and let out a gasp. She clearly never expected it to be quite so valuable. “Really?!” she asked the expert.
“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, taking a moment to come to terms with the news. After all, the book had just been sitting in the basement for years. She even looked as though she might cry at one point, before she composed herself enough to ask Sanders an important question.
“What do I do with it?” she asked, still seemingly on the verge of losing control of her emotions. The expert’s advice was to keep it somewhere very secure, perhaps in a safety deposit box. But people who watched the Antiques Roadshow segment on YouTube had other suggestions for her.
“Sell! Sell! Sell!” one viewer commented, while others were touched by the woman’s reaction. “How sweet! I teared up watching this,” wrote another YouTube user. Someone else described the way that the woman took the news as “heartwarming” to watch.
Whether she ended up selling the hymnal or not remains to be seen. However, at the end of the segment she asked Sanders to whom she should “hand it down,” suggesting that she planned to keep it within the family for generations to come. After all, it may well become even more valuable after another few decades sitting idly in the basement.