NEW YORK (MainStreet) — From a million-dollar nickel to a hidden surprise in the attic, MainStreet readers share their incredible true stories of found treasure.
When we stumble upon a penny in the street, we tend to shrug it off, thinking that it’s pointless to stop and pick it up. After all, we tell ourselves, how much is a penny worth, anyway?
But imagine if that penny were a nickel, and not just any nickel, but an extremely rare one that had been sought after by numismatics for years and was valued at $2.5 million. Ryan Givens’s uncle, the famed collector George Walton, possessed such a coin, but when his estate left the nickel to Givens’s mother, it ended up sitting in her closet gathering dust for nearly four decades until Givens was prodded to take a second look.
MainStreet decided to look at what it means to “luck into” found treasure, and all the exciting ways this can happen. From Givens’s heartwarming tale of the Liberty Head nickel that vindicated his uncle to a historical ranch in Lampasas, Texas, that literally abounds with buried treasure, MainStreet is excited to share three tales that are sure to boggle your mind and inspire you to clean out your closet.
Up in the Attic
Steven Hoffer had a hunch there was treasure lurking in his parents’ attic when he dropped by one day to sort through the many boxes that had been sitting there, sealed, for nearly 30 years.
“I was an only child, an odd kid,” says the part-time recording artist from a suburb outside of San Francisco. “I always kept track of my toys really well, everything I had I really saved. But once you grow up and see that you have stuff, you watch shows and you want to get as much money as you can.”
The “sea of boxes” crowding his parents’ attic were mostly labeled 1975 or 1976, but many were filled with belongings dating to 1977, the year when an epic space opera from George Lucas sparked a serious toy obsession for Hoffer.
“It was almost like found money,” the composer says of the 50 sets of first edition Star Wars toys he found in the attic. “Instantly, it’s like I had this investment that I was forced to now manage and make proper decisions on. I found that I’m sitting on a gold mine that’s worth up to $10,000.”
Hoffer took it upon himself to thoroughly research the toys and sell them in bulk to a comic book store in San Francisco.
“They were blown away, but didn’t want to show their full enthusiasm,” he recounts of the sellers, especially since he’s been told by friends that the collectors market is tough. But for Hoffer, the items were an unexpected windfall that came at a rather tough time.
“I have friends that tell me, ‘Hold onto this, maybe the value will go up in 20 years or so’,” he says. “But I work in the music industry and things are tight right now, so I definitely see this as a way of supplementing my income. This investment was dumped on my lap. I don’t have a personal attachment.”