Sorting through a deceased relative’s belongings is never easy. But for one American family the chore turned into something of a treasure hunt when they found a safe that had been hidden away for generations. And what they discovered inside it surprised them.
Looking back, their father recalled the safe arriving many years previously. With time, though, the memories had faded – and would perhaps have vanished completely if the safe hadn’t been uncovered.
The kids jokingly called their grandparents’ property “the compound,” and it’s easy to see why. On their 45-acre plot by a river in Wisconsin, the elderly couple had owned not just a home, but also barns, sheds and garages – perfect for hiding secrets…
One of the treasures uncovered in his grandmother’s home by reddit user vsky was this picture of his grandfather as a young soldier. The words “just taking it easy” were written on the back. It soon became one of vsky’s favorite family photographs, too – but were there more material treasures hiding on his grandparents’ property?
Isolated from the rest of the buildings, at the edge of the compound, there was just a final garage almost begging to be explored. So, accompanied by his father and little brother, vsky ventured inside to take a look.
At first glance, the garage was nothing special, so the trio got to work cleaning up. But then vsky’s brother accidentally knocked his broom against the wall. And it didn’t take an expert to realize that the dull knock they heard indicated that this was a false wall. Something lay behind it…
Whoever had built the wall had seemingly meant for it to stay a secret. Although it was made of plywood rather than brick, it had been painted to look like the rest of the interior of the garage. The guys were about to uncover what seemed to have been one of the grandparents’ most closely guarded secrets.
Together, the three of them managed to remove the fake wall to reveal a safe, and it was huge. Indeed, they estimated the weight of the fixture to be as much as 2,000 pounds – something perhaps more likely to be found in a bank than a barn. Racking his memory, vsky’s father later remembered it being delivered by tow truck. As vsky posted, “It makes sense… you aren’t moving this bad boy with anything less than a tow truck.”
The sense of excitement was tempered, though, by the realization that they didn’t know the combination for the safe. The only people who presumably knew the code were both dead. However, the guys weren’t ready to give up so quickly.
They scoured the garage, looking high and low for any clue that might help them guess the secret combination. Unsurprisingly, the grandparents hadn’t been careless enough to leave the answer written on a piece of paper next to the safe. But then, a breakthrough came…
Sure enough, almost like something out of the Da Vinci Code, the old couple had left a trail of clues: numbers written on rafters in each of the eight garages dotted around the compound. And once all eight had been collected, it was just a matter of trial and error. Finally, then, the guys hit the jackpot, and the huge safe door inched open.
The trio’s eyes were most likely first caught by a gun. And not just any gun; a .30-30 Winchester – an iconic firearm first produced by the famous American company back in 1895. That firearm alone could be worth a pretty penny. But this was just the tip of the iceberg…
The family guessed that there were around 1,000 coins in the collection, most of them silver dollars and half-dollars. Some of them dated from the 1880s and 1890s, and while some looked worn, others appeared as shiny as on the day they were minted.
One coin stood out, however: an 1892 Morgan Silver Dollar. Highly prized by collectors, some variations of the coin have been known to fetch more than $150,000 at auction. It therefore seemed that the family might have a real treasure trove on their hands. But, though undoubtedly excited, they kept their heads clear and turned to the internet for advice…
The consensus was clear: they weren’t to attempt to clean the coins since this could damage them. Nor were they to sell the collection in bulk without first cataloguing the individual coins and determining their value. Understandably, the family didn’t want to miss out on a small fortune, so they took the advice on board. Yet there was more here besides.
Compared to piles of silver coins and an antique rifle, the pile of papers nestled in the hulking safe must have seemed fairly underwhelming. But these, too, merited further inspection – and they were found to include “Treasury Notes” printed before Prohibition had swept the United States.
What’s more, the pile of papers also contained title deeds to a piece of property. The family had unwittingly become landowners – even if a little more digging revealed that the area in question boasts little more than birch trees and an old shack.
Sharing his tale with the world, vsky revealed that, while the valuable antiques may have been an unexpected windfall, equally as valuable to the family were smaller items whose value is largely sentimental. Indeed, effects such as the old picture of his grandfather as a soldier are now treasured by vsky.
Meanwhile, as a self-declared “history nut,” vsky wrote that he was resolved to hold onto the finds, especially the old rifle and the coins. While dealers may see them as valuable investments, for him they will always simply be a link to his own past and a fascinating insight into the lives of his grandparents.