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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (02/2013) Headlines (12/2012) Headlines (04/2013)   Vol. 47 February 2013 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the February 2013 edition of W&ET Magazine


A silver Colonial Massachusetts coin from 1652 that was found in a potato field has been auctioned for $430,000. Newsday reports that an East Hampton, NY, woman found the coin 23 years ago with a metal detector.

It garnered four times as much as auction officials expected. It was sold recently at the Colonial Coin Collectors Club in Baltimore.

The coin is one of eight known to exist.

It was first auctioned in 1992 by Lillian King and sold to an auction house for $35,200. The man who ended up buying the coin from the auction house resold it for the large sum.

King tells the newspaper that she wishes she had waited to sell the coin.

From The AP, submitted by Ben Myers, Elizabethtown, PA.


A Texas man recently donated a pair of shoes to Goodwill without realizing that his wife had stuck their entire life saving's inside.

According to KPRC Houston, Richard Lopez, the manager at the Goodwill store in Webster, TX, said an employee was arranging recently-donated items on shelves and noticed something stuck inside a shoe.

"Quite a large wad of $100 bills," Lopez told KPRC.

The roll of cash amounted to a whopping $3,300.

The employee alerted Lopez who set the money aside for seven days to see if anyone claimed it- and a woman from Galveston (who wished to remain anonymous) did.

"She was so grateful," Clarence Cope, a store employee who was present when the woman came to collect the cash, said. "She was crying."

"We have policies here at Goodwill," Lopez said of the employees' good deed. "We want to make sure we're doing the right thing."

"We were so happy that we were able to get the money to the right person," Cope added.

The Webster Goodwill employees aren't the only ones who recently found treasure in a secondhand store.

In April two boys from New York discovered the war medals of a Cherokee hero in an antique store. According to The Huffington Post, Michael and Mauro Mazarriello were able to track down the family of the Korean War hero, Charles George. Sixty years after George died during military service to the United States, the medals were finally reunited with his family at a Veteran's Day ceremony on the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds in North Carolina recently.

Deb Thompson went to her local Goodwill in Coon Rapids, MN in June in search of some bargain capri pants. She was able to find some stylish pants that happened to include a diamond ring in the pocket- a ring one jeweler in St. Paul appraised at somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000.

From The Huffington Post, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.


He's not a rich man. A Brazilian immigrant who has been in the US for 30 years, he remembers what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck, and as a family man with a child in college, he still has to watch his pennies.

One of his joys is stopping by the book exchange at the Recycling and Disposal Facility when he drops off trash for his Wellesley employer. He has built a sizeable collection of old National Geographic magazines that way, and he picks up other items that catch his eye, like a 1909 scrapbook full of charming cards and other mementos of the era. That's what he was doing recently- dumpster-diving near the book shelves. He checked out some children's books, then picked up a bigger book and casually leafed through it. That's when he spotted the cash.

The book had been carefully hollowed out, and inside were stacks of cash. When he counted them, he discovered that they came not to hundreds of dollars, but thousands- more than $20,000.

Perhaps the book's owner had died or gone to a nursing home, and the family had just thrown out the books they didn't want. Perhaps the owner had somehow forgotten the money was inside. There was no way to know, because there was nothing on the outside or inside of the book that would allow the owner to be traced.

The man took the book home to Marlborough, put the money in one place and the book in another, and began thinking about what he should do next. He told his wife, but not his children.

Finally, he contacted the Townsman to tell his story. He wanted, he said, to try to find the owner of the money, but he didn't want his name printed or his face shown. He feared being overwhelmed by people trying to claim the cash.

Instead, he is asking that anyone who wants to claim the money to tell him the name of the book, the approximate amount of money stashed inside, what the hollowed out space looked like and what else was stored with the money.

If no one claims the cash over the next few months, he will probably give a portion of it to his favorite charity, and keep the rest.

Who would ever have known that he found the cash, had he had not come forward? No one, probably. He could, he readily acknowledges, use the money. But, he says it doesn't belong to him, and he wants to do the right thing. "That's the way I was raised."

If you can identify the book and its contents, email him at

From Brookline Tab, submitted by many readers.


An American who was caught trying to leave Macedonia with more than 200 ancient coins has been convicted and given a two-year suspended sentence.

In the ruling, the court also banned 45-year-old Candace Lynn Dunlap, a nurse from Meridian, Alabama, from returning to Macedonia for 10 years.

From the AP, submitted by Daniel Finch, Halifax, N.S.


A 69-year-old California grandmother has come forward to claim a $23 million lottery jackpot after the winning Super Lotto Plus ticket languished in her car's glove compartment for months and almost expired.

From the Providence Journal, submitted by Larry Violette, Rehoboth, MA.


Experts say the skeletal remains of a pigeon discovered in the chimney of a house in southern England carried a mysterious, long-forgotten message from World War II. Historians at Britain's Second World War-era code breaking headquarters say the bird was almost certainly returning from Nazi-occupied France during the June 1944 D-Day invasion.

From the Providence Journal, submitted by Larry Violette, Rehoboth, MA.


Police in South Africa say they've arrested a 25-year-old man who swallowed 220 polished diamonds in an attempt to smuggle them out of the country.

Capt. Paul Ramaloko of the South African Police Service said investigators arrested the man recently as he waited in line at security at O.R. Tambo International Airport just outside of Johannesburg. Ramaloko said a scan of the man's body showed the diamonds, which later were recovered. He said the man had been on his way to Dubai.

Ramaloko said the diamonds are worth about $2.3 million. Authorities believe the man belongs to a smuggling ring, as another man was arrested last year attempting the same thing.

South Africa is one of the world's top diamond producers.

From the Chronicle Herald, submitted by Daniel Finch, Halifax, N.S.


Four men say they have unearthed pieces of a World War II-era fighter plane in a southeastern Michigan farm field.

Jim Clary, his brother, Ben, and two men from the Michigan Treasure Hunters used metal detectors to make the find in St. Clair County's Casco Township just east of Richmond.

Jim Clary tells the Times Herald of Port Huron the recovered fragments are from a P-38D Lightning that was piloted by 2nd Lt. Al Voss, a native of Elgin, IL, assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge air base in Michigan.

Voss died in the October 1941 crash.

The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reports the men uncovered several shards of the plane about 8 inches down in the dirt.

From the AP, submitted by Marty Maher, Langlois, OR.


Three small, silver spoons elegantly engraved with the words "Waldorf Astoria" have come full circle: Stolen eight decades ago by an employee of the famed hotel, they passed through two Brooklyn homes and another three in New Jersey.

Then, earlier this month, Brigid Brown packaged them up, took them back through the grand, chandeliered foyer of the hotel and plunked them down on a table- as part of a new Waldorf "amnesty program" that seeks the return of pilfered property, no questions asked.

"At first, I thought, 'Was my husband's grandfather a thief? How could he do this?'" she asked, grinning as she touched the shining silver spoons over a free lunch.

The spoons joined dozens of other items that are back in their rightful place, including teapots, creamers, a sugar bowl, a wine bottle coaster and dishes for nuts.

Just don't call them stolen items.

Each was "secretly checked out," the hotel says on its Facebook page. And "we're giving you the chance to give it back."

The Waldorf's fancy what-nots are trickling back with stories of human lives, loves and losses going as far back as the early 20th century. They trace the history of the 129-year-old hotel that fills a whole city block on Manhattan's east side. It has hosted every U.S. president- including Barack Obama- and been home to celebrities from Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter to Paris Hilton.

But the program that started on July 1 offers glimpses into more ordinary lives of people who came to the Waldorf for something special, such as a wedding night, an anniversary, an award or special vacation.

Some items are of no particular value, except emotional, such as a "Do Not Disturb" sign from a couple's wedding night that an archivist pulls out of a cardboard box along with postcards written by the blissful guests.

The new collection will be displayed in glass cases in the lobby with other objects and photos from a celebrity-studded past.

Beyond historic nostalgia, the project has a new-age business purpose. To raise the profile of an old, iconic institution in today's social-media marketing world.

"We're a corporate entity that hasn't focused on tracking history, because we're always looking to the future," said Matt Zolbe, the Waldorf's director of sales and marketing.

Zolbe hopes images of interesting returned property the hotel is loading on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest will be retweeted or reposted "to attract a new generation to the Waldorf," where room rates start at about $400 a night.

Christine Hayner, a 25-year-old Waldorf sales manager, says she's never helped herself to anything at the hotel. But her grandmother did, on her wedding night in 1949.

This summer, while at the family beach house on the New Jersey shore, a Waldorf silver fork suddenly appeared in her grandmother's hand.

"She said, 'I have something from your hotel, and I want you to have it- it's important to me,'" Hayner quotes her as saying.

The granddaughter accepted the salad fork, more than a half century after it disappeared from a cart that brought a room-service meal to the newlyweds.

But then, said Hayner, "I thought, 'What am I going to do with this?'"

Three days later, she got the answer at a business meeting where Waldorf executives announced their amnesty idea.

"It sounded oddly familiar, like what my grandmother gave me," she said. "And I thought, 'this meeting is just perfect.'"

But other objects are still missing, including thousands of demitasse spoons that were the most popular stolen item- easy to tuck away in a pocket or purse.

One unique piece never made it: the glass door to a shower in the Waldorf Towers apartment of Sinatra and his wife, Nancy, with their initials carved into it. An unnamed seller once offered the Waldorf the door, "but it's not a hotel practice to purchase items that may have been stolen," said Zolbe.

Waldorf archivist Alex Duryee said surprise packages have come from across the country, from California and Texas to Massachusetts and Louisiana.

From the CB Post, submitted by Daniel Finch, Halifax, N.S.


Baltimore police located a 60-year-old theft report from the day a Renoir painting disappeared from the Baltimore Museum of Art that matches the description of an artwork that sold for $7 recently at a flea market. Now an art theft expert says the museum has a strong case to get it back.

Baltimore police recently uncovered the report from Nov. 17, 1951. The museum said it also found a record in its library that the painting was stolen. The police report noted there was no evidence of forced entry at the museum and that the painting was valued then at $2,500.

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Zoueva Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.

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