Sometimes, the most mindblowing treasures imaginable can be found tucked away in our own homes.. While sifting through the contents of his grandmother’s art room, one man happened across an old hidden safe, long forgotten and rusty. No one had known of its existence — and what awaited inside would forever alter what he knew about his past.
A Cluttered Disarray
The inside of an old art room covered floor to ceiling with the debris of past projects would not seem like the most likely place to happen upon treasure. However, on a hunt for something valuable or interesting amidst the clutter of his grandmother’s art room, Imgur user Todirerl, who we’ll refer to as Todd, was about to stumble across something utterly extraordinary.
Todd sifted his way through the room of junk, trying to make sense of the disorder. In the last unexplored corner of the room stood an old wooden cupboard. Inside it, waiting to be uncovered, was something unexpected. It would turn out to be something that would change his life and his family’s life forever.
Begging To Be Opened
Already Todd could tell that something was more than a bit off. While the rest of the room looked like a scene from the show Hoarders, the cupboard was completely empty. Or at least, that’s what Todd thought. He noticed that the wooden panel at the bottom of the closet had been tampered with.
Todd sensed that he was now on to something. He poked at the bottom of the cupboard and realized that he could easily remove it. A closer look revealed what was not immediately obvious: someone had intentionally fabricated the space to conceal something. It was a false bottom. Why had it been put there?
A Hiding Space
Once the bottom of the cupboard came out, a closer look revealed the space underneath. Once filled by tile, it was now completely covered in gravel and sand. Todd wondered who would go to this effort to hide something. And if there was something hidden here, was it supposed to be found?
Once he began clearing the gravel away, Todd immediately noticed what appeared to be a hidden safe, its dial barely visible above the old rocks. He asked his grandmother if she knew the combination. To his surprise, not only did she not know the combination — she knew nothing about the safe’s existence. Was Todd about to stumble into something left behind by the home’s former inhabitants?
Cracking The Safe
The first order of business was to crack that long-hidden safe open. Lacking any information about its contents or the combination, the grandmother finally gave Todd and his father permission to go in by force. Thankfully, Todd’s father had the right combination of power tools to do the trick. It took quite the effort to open the old safe, but they managed to do it.
By first prying the safe out of the closet, and then sanding the edges down with a hefty circle saw, they were finally ready to unbox whatever was locked inside. Todd’s father waited until he got home before opening the metal box. They couldn’t believe the sight that greeted them upon removing the lid.
A Secret Message
A first glance inside revealed a bundled black cloth with a hidden message, “Abandon All Regret Ye Who Enter Here.” For fans of the famous medieval book Inferno by the Italian writer Dante, this is the inscription at the gates when Dante passes into the realm of Hell. Either this was some kind of warning, or merely a joke.
Todd waved off the cryptic message as just another riddle, perhaps left behind by none other than his late grandfather. A practical joker in his day, clearly he had planned on getting one last laugh from beyond the grave. Still, no one in the family had known of the hidden safe’s existence, nor could they have fathomed what they would find under that note.
A Hefty Bundle
The first noticeable item inside the safe was a black cloth marked on the outside by a white Chinese symbol. User comments on Todd’s Imgur account explained that its meaning is the phrase “double happiness” and it is something often seen at Chinese weddings. Nowadays, the symbol is also a type of branding for fashion items, cigarettes, jewelry, soy sauce, and more.
But the cloth wasn’t the only item in the hidden safe. It served as a sort of protective cocoon for other items, which they deduced had been buried by the family’s grandfather. From the sheer weight and size of it, it became clear that there was quite a lot to unpack. The family began to take out its contents.
The first items that they found were a picture of a woman, a gold pen, a lamp, and a curious pouch dated 1776. For starters, the woman in the picture wasn’t random; she was in fact Todd’s great-great-grandmother (his grandfather’s grandmother). The gold fountain pen was identified by another reader as a Duofold, 51s and Vacumatic.
In a heartwarming caveat to the story, a number of readers voluntarily helped Todd by identifying some of the items long concealed by this hidden safe. Several also put their Photoshop skills to work by touching up the old pictures he had found. The pen, one user surmised, could be worth up to $500. But other items would prove to be far more valuable.
An Old Treasure
A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words — and sometimes even more. For many, finding a picture like the one of Todd’s great-great grandmother pictured below is priceless, especially considering its age. One user noted that the picture must be well over a century old.
Finding family pictures like this can oftentimes be just the beginning of a wealth of new information; leading to the the discovery of other family members, or answering questions surrounding ethnicity or origin which were previously unknown. The sentimental value of this picture is simply unmatched — but what Todd found next would also provide him intrinsic value.
A Golden Keepsake
In a leather pouch with an illegible marking on it, but a clear date marked 1776, Todd found a gold pocket watch. Here was a potentially valuable find and new family heirloom, considering that additional pictures found in the safe show Todd’s great-grandfather sporting the watch. Since their invention, both wrist and pocket watches were popular items to be passed through the generations.
It is also worth noting the cloth used to house the watch. One reader with a keen eye for historical accuracy was quick to point out that the fabric was issued by the British military. Its barrel cloth was used for cleaning a rifle, which makes sense considering the next amazing items that Todd found in that hidden safe.
Memories Of War
The fantastic pocket watch wasn’t the only item Todd’s great-grandfather could be seen wearing in the old photograph. He also was sporting these medals from the First World War. One user, an acclaimed WWI aficionado and reenacter, said that one of the more ornate of the medals were given to troops from the British Commonwealth who had come to Europe to serve in the war, and that the other was issued from a famous battle.
The stamp collection, perhaps souvenirs from the grandfather’s travels abroad, was highlighted by readers to potentially be the most valuable of all the items. Several were very old and more than a few are from countries that no longer exist. Though Todd was already reeling from the treasure trove inside the safe, there were still more mysteries to unravel. And some of those were, perhaps, not of this world.
Do You Believe In Magic?
Though it looks like a rusty version of the lamp pulled straight from the Disney classic, the lamp which had remained buried for so long did not contain any sort of genie imprisoned within. Todd did, however, admit to readers that he rubbed the lamp in an attempt to summon its nonexistent guest.
Thanks to the vast knowledge of the readers responding to Todd’s Imgur post, the family learned that this lamp was used for incense and practicing meditation. Perhaps this was evidence, along with the Chinese cloth, that Todd’s ancestor had paid a visit to the Far East. Although not extraordinarily valuable, what Todd found next is surely something that everyone wants to find when they crack a safe.
Make It Rain
The next item locked away in the hidden safe was a series of glittering old coins, hailing from a diverse array of countries, such as Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe), New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Jamaica, Pakistan, Cuba, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela, just to name a few. There were a total of fifteen coins, most of them quite old, and worth some money.
Users instructed Todd to hang onto the Morgan silver dollar, sitting in the middle of the picture, as it’s considered a highly collectible item. Another reader recognized a coin from his native South Africa and said that he had sold one for four thousand rand (about $217). Although valuable in its own right, the final item from the treasure had absolutely limitless potential.
A Second Treasure
The most peculiar of all the items in the safe was a golden key that was wrapped in the black cloth. The head of the key was adorned with an intricate, fanciful pattern, although it wasn’t clear what the key would open. Certainly, based on appearance alone, it looks like it could open something truly amazing.
Theories abounded — perhaps this old golden key could actually open another hidden safe waiting for the family to find it? Or perhaps, regardless, the greatest gift for Todd had been learning about his own family and inheriting some awesome heirlooms! Gratefully, he was able to get a look at the man who had likely bequeathed many of these treasures to his descendants.
The Legend Himself
Although he remains nameless, upon publishing his thrilling find, Todd’s great-grandfather and the former owner of several of the hidden safe’s possessions became an Internet sensation. Many readers were captivated by this dapper photograph of him. Someone even jokingly asked to know if he was single!
With a sharp haircut, round glasses, suit, and all the right accessories, despite his age, this great-grandfather wouldn’t look out of place if you stuck him in a New York hipster bar. Notice the WWI theater medal sported below the dimple in the tie, as well as the gold pocket watch neatly tucked in his coat. Beyond his good looks and style tips, there is something that this man has taught an entire generation of Imgur readers.
A Lesson Learned
For centuries, understanding one’s family history has been an essential task. Hundreds of years ago it was a way to maintain prestige, and a motive to aid in pursuing business endeavors or perhaps obtaining a good marriage. Surprisingly, even with the advent of the Internet and genealogy, exploring the past is still quite an arduous task.
One takeaway from Todd’s story is the importance of safeguarding items from the past. Time capsules like the one found by Todd are the best and most accurate way to tell a story. So the next time you think about selling off that old watch or piece of jewelry that you got from your grandparents, you might want to reconsider.
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