Imagine going through your family’s old things, and finding something of incredible value – like a Bronze Age sword or the first ever Superman comic book. It’s happened before!
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where some cleaning days can lead to a ‘total’ surprise.
Here are a few discoveries made in basements, attics, markets and barns around the world that turned up extremely valuable historical items:
1. Violin from the Titanic
In 2006, a man in England found an old violin in his attic that later turned out to be the very same one that Titanic bandleader Wallace Hartley played, as the ship sank in 1912. Recovery workers found the instrument in its case, strapped to Hartley’s body, shortly after the shipwreck. Since Hartley was wearing a life vest, his body was floating in the water, when workers found him. Both the violin and the body were sent to Hartley’s fiancé, Maria Robinson. In 2013, the violin sold for around $1.7 million, setting a record for a Titanic artifact.
2. Lost imperial Fabergé egg
When a scrap metal dealer was scrounging around a flea market in the US, in 2004, he found a gold, jewel-encrusted egg that opened up into a clock. He bought it for $13,302, in the hope of melting it down and reselling it for more. But when researching about the egg, he realised it could be one of the lost eggs made by the House of Fabergé for the Russian royal family. He took it to experts, who confirmed that it was the Third Imperial Fabergé Egg commissioned by Russian Tsar Alexander III for his wife Maria Fyodorovna in 1887. The egg is thought to be valued in tens of millions of dollars – it was sold privately through a London auctioneer for an undisclosed sum in 2014.
3. First Superman and Batman comics
When an American man named Michael Rorrer was cleaning out his great-aunt’s home in Virginia, US, he stumbled upon 345 comic books stacked neatly in a basement closet. He later discovered his great-uncle had compiled the collection, which included the first-ever appearances of Superman and Batman. In 2012, a majority of his comic book collection sold for $3.5 million. The first comic in which Batman appeared – a 1939 copy of Detective Comics No.27 – sold for $523,000!
4. Bronze Age sword
When fishing in the Arney River in Northern Ireland in 1965, a man named Ambrose Owens pulled out an unusual object. He left it in a barn in his family farm, where it remained for over 50 years, until his brother, who thought it looked remarkably old, passed it on to archaeological experts. Imagine his surprise when he learned that the object was in fact a Bronze Age sword, dating some 2,600 years. In 2016, the Enniskillen Castle Museum took over the maintenance of the sword.