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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (01/2003) Headlines (11/2002) Headlines (03/2003)   Vol. 37 January 2003 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the January 2003 edition of W&ET Magazine


A Virginia man's high school ring found its way back to his hand after a 57-year journey that saw it pass from a Russian soldier to an East German and finally to an Internet surfer who searched for its rightful owner.

Embossed with "Cape Charles High School 1937" and bearing the initials CLN, the gold ring with a blue-stone now fits only on a pinky finger of Carlisle Louis Nottingham, a World War II airman.

"I never thought that I would see it again," said Nottingham, 81, at a weekend ceremony in front of the Allied Museum in Berlin, where he accepted the ring from its most recent owner, Mathias Franke.

Shot down over Belgium in 1943, Nottingham was held in a Nazi prison near Poland. As Soviet troops advanced on Berlin in the final days of the war, the prison was evacuated.

The ring was left behind, in a pair of trousers.

A Russian soldier found it, and in the 1960s, when he was stationed in East Germany, he sold it to Karl Franke. Franke gave the ring to Mathias, his grandson, for Christmas in 2001.

When Mathias Franke met an American with a similar ring, he began to wonder who CLN was.

Using the Internet, he found a contact at Cape Charles High School who figured out that only one person from the Class of '37 had those initials: Nottingham.

Nottingham exchanged several e-mails with Mathias Franke before flying to Berlin to retrieve his ring. The U.S. Air Force paid for his trip.

From Star Tribune, submitted by Douglas Amundson, Cambridge, MN.


A 1933 Double Eagle gold coin that never went into circulation was being sold at government auction recently, with experts predicting it could fetch millions.

The U.S. Mint estimated the coin's value at $4 million to $6 million.

Sotheby's auction house in New York was to begin the auction around 6 p.m., said Mint spokesman Doug Hecox, and it was not clear when the auction would end.

Double Eagles were first minted in 1850, with a face value of $20. The ones that were minted in 1933 were not circulated because President Roosevelt decided to take the nation off the gold standard.

The coin being auctioned is believed to be one of three 1933 Double Eagles to have survived an order that year that the coins be melted down. The front features a standing Liberty figure. The other side features a majestic eagle.

Before the coins were melted down, two were handed over to the Smithsonian Institution for historic safekeeping. One other survived, was thought to have been illegally smuggled out of the Mint and ended up in the storied coin collection of Egypt's last monarch, King Farouk.

From the Kennebec Journal, submitted by Gary S. Mangiacopra


It was in the car on the way home from a movie that Victoria Naylor had a pearl of an idea.

Naylor, who lives in Tempe, Arizona, was visiting Danville, VA a few weeks ago for a Simpson family reunion at the home of her sister, Kay Crane. One night, Naylor and her four sisters decided to go to a movie, "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

In the film, a group of women form a childhood club called the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. As part of the club, the women wear what Crane called "awful hats."

As the sisters drove home from the theater, Naylor suggested that they make hats of their own.

"Let's be spontaneous and silly and go down to Goodwill and get some hats," she said to her sisters.

The next morning, the five women woke up early and went to the Goodwill store on Westover Drive.

As her sisters looked at hats, Naylor went to the jewelry counter to get some costume jewelry to "tacky them up," as Crane said.

After grabbing a handful of 49-cent pearl strands, Naylor noticed something odd about one of the strands.

"As I was walking out the door, I noticed that it was real heavy," Naylor said.

"She said, 'Kay, I think these are real pearls,'" Crane remembered.

Ironically, Naylor is somewhat of an expert in pearls. She has a designer degree in pearls, and spent five years in Hawaii working for Maui Divers, an outfit that specializes in pearl diving.

Naylor counted the pearls. There were 92 pearls on the strand, and the clasp was made of gold.

As she examined the pearls more closely, Naylor was amazed to find that the pearls had virtually no blemishes on them.

"I could only find two blisters on them. The rest were perfect," she said.

She estimated that the necklace could be worth as much as $5,000.

The Simpson sisters returned to Crane's house, and Naylor's daughter Kaitlin, and her cousins spent the afternoon decorating the hats. Later, the sisters posed for photographs in their silly hats.

When Naylor returned home to Arizona, she took the necklace to a friend who specializes in pearl appraisal.

"He came back and said 'you're not going to believe this, but these pearls are worth $50,000.'" He was right, she didn't believe it.

"I was absolutely shocked," Naylor said.

The appraiser had determined that the necklace is made of 92 10-millimeter Akoya pearls from Japan, and was most likely designed around 1940. It would take 92 oysters four years to produce a strand of its size.

Naylor's Ya-Ya pearl story spread quickly among Goodwill regulars, according to Martin Hopkins of the Danville Goodwill Store, and has inspired a movie moniker of its own: Goodwill hunting.

Hopkins said that people have been scouring the store, hoping for the same sort of luck that Naylor had. But so far, it remains the only tale of its kind for Goodwill stores in the Danville area.

As for Naylor, she's planning to ensure that the Simpson Sisterhood is better accessorized than the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; she's having the strand broken up into pearl earrings for herself and her four sisters.

From the News & Advance, submitted by Chadwic T. Anderson


Davy Crockett's popularity is so widespread that many mistake him for a fictional movie hero played by Fess Parker, those attending the start of Crockett's 216th birthday celebration were told.

The "king of the wild frontier" who was "born on a mountain top in Tennessee" was also a Texas hero. He traveled from Tennessee to Texas to help in Texas' battle against Mexico, and was killed with all the other defenders when Mexican General Santa Anna's soldiers overran the Alamo in 1836.

Speaking at the unveiling of Crockett's beaded buckskin vest, Alamo historian and curator Bruce Winders recalled one woman touring the Alamo who remarked, "I didn't know he was a real person."

Even during his time, Crockett was an American idol, Winders reminded the crowd.

"If Time or People magazine had been around at the time, he would've been on the cover," he said.

From the Oak Ridger, submitted by John H. Wadsworth.

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