15 Jaw Dropping Finds That Made Their Discoverers Incredibly Wealthy!

FUN FACTS October 17, 2017 By Vincent

We've all been pretty happy with ourselves due to a decent find whether that be change down the back of the sofa or a pretty nifty item from the thrift store for mere pocket change (that you probably found down the back of the sofa) but some people get all the luck and land themselves some massive finds that pay for more than just a Big Mac and fries.


Here we take a look at some incredible finds that, by pure chance, made the people who discovered them incredibly wealthy. So warm up the metal detector and let's go on a treasure hunt!

Unseen Charlie Chaplin Movie

Looking for a decoration in the style of the old-timey film tins that used to contain the big old reels of nitrate film when a movie was wrapped, Maurice park took to the internet bidding site eBay to try and find one at a low price, and he found an antique film listed for $5. He was only interested in the tin, but it was a cheap find and so forked over the $5 + shipping and waited for his package to arrive.

P.D. Jankens/Wikipedia.org

When he received the canister, he was a little surprised to find film inside, but he decided to see what was on it in case it was anything of interest. As it transpired, it was fascinating and extremely valuable as it was a copy of the unreleased Charlie Chaplin film  Zepped that dated back to 1916. Made to assuage fears of Zeppelin attacks from Germany during WWI, it never made it to the cinema screens and so was very rare and thus highly sought after. Valued at around $160,000, the $5 investment seems like even more of a snip now.

Hoxne Hoard

When you lose your tools, it can be infuriating, especially given that they can be quite pricey and you develop a sort of pseudo-emotional attachment to them if you've had them for a few years. When one farmer lost his hammer on his property, he asked a friend who had a metal detector to help him out and his buddy duly obliged.

Mike Peel/commons.wikimedia.org

Eric Lawes set about scouring the fields for the hammer but rather than unearthing a vital tool all he could find were thousands of absolutely useless gold, silver and bronze coins from the Roman Empire alongside jewelry and trinkets. We imagine the pair were still a bit distraught that they couldn't find the hammer and only turned to the idea of selling the coins to finance a new tool at which point they made, between them, $2.3m. Now referred to as the Hoxne hoard, because the treasure was found in the village of Hoxne, it is the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth century found anywhere within the Roman Empire.

The Uncle Sam Diamond

Before it became known as the Craters of Diamond State Park, a man named Wesley Oley Basham stumbled across a shining rock in the area only for him to discover he'd unintentionally kicked the largest diamond ever to be found in the United States. A worker at the Arkansas Diamond Corporation,  the rough diamond as originally discovered weighed 40.23 karats (8.046 g) and it's discovery arguably rescued the Arkansas Diamond Corporation, which had a debt of over US$276,470 by that time and was going to be shut down in the winter of 1924.


The company described the diamond as being so hard that they could only be cut using powder of other Arkansas diamonds but when it was eventually cut and polished, the final result was a 12.42-carat (2.484 g) emerald-cut gem that was sold to a private collector in 1971 for $150,000.

The Declaration of Independence

When Nicholas Cage stole the Declaration of Independence he found a treasure map on the back....no, wait that's the plot to National Treasure but in real life, a Mr. Michael Sparks went shopping at a thrift store and picked up a cool, old looking Declaration of Independence decoration and what true, red-blooded, patriotic American wouldn't want one of these in their home? His whole shop, including some other household items, cost him $2.48.

The US National Archives/Flickr.com

However, the print looked so darn good, Michael decided to have it authenticated only to discover it was one of only 200 official copies of the document made just after it was signed. Naturally, like any red-blooded, patriotic American, Michael decided to cash-in on his find and made a cool $477,650 from it. Whether it was bought by Nicholas Cage or not, we cannot confirm.

Pretty Much Everything by Martin Johnson Heade

Martin Johnson Heade was an American painter noted for his landscapes and studies of birds but Heade was not a famous artist during his time, and for much of the first part of the 20th century was nearly forgotten. A re-awakening of interest in 19th-century American art around World War II sparked a new appreciation of his work but, by which time, much of it had slipped into obscurity or been lost track of. As such, when people rediscovered them they found out that they could make a tidy profit from them.

museum syndicate/commons.wikimedia.org

Heade's Magnolia Blossoms on Blue Velvet and Cherokee Roses, were purchased at an estate sale in Arizona for $60 in 1996 before being discovered as genuine pieces and being sold to a private collector via Christie's auction house later that year for $937,500 and $134,500 respectively. Likewise, TTwo Magnolias on Blue Plush was originally purchased for $29 at a rummage sale by a Wisconsin man in 1989 and was kept for 10 years before being sold at Christie's auction house in 1999 for $882,500. It is now in the collection of James W. McGlothlin of Bristol, Virginia.

Martin Johnson Heade/commons.wikimedia.org

Perhaps the most interesting story of a Heade piece being rediscovered though is that of Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth which was bought by an Indiana resident for $29 and then hung on his wall for the sole purpose of covering a hole in it. It wasn't until many years later that the owner was playing a board game called Masterpiece which is about auctioning art, he realized that his painting looked very similar to one of the paintings featured in the game. Getting it authenticated, he found that the thing covering the hoke in his wall was a genuine. 

Heade and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston purchased the work for $1,250,000 in 1999.

Cuerdale Hoard

As though England didn't have enough to deal with when it unearthed a Roman hoard of gold, it also has its fair share of Viking silver under its land as a group of workmen repairing the embankment of a bend of the River Ribble, in an area called Cuerdale near Preston, Lancashire, England. Discovered in 1840, it is a hoard of more than 8,600 items, including silver coins, English and Carolingian jewelry, hacksilver and ingots.

Charles Tilford/Flickr.com

The second largest Viking hoard ever discovered, it was passed to the landowner, who passed it on to the crown at the time, where it then came to rest in the British Museum where the majority of it remains although some selected items are on display elsewhere. The workmen also got to keep a coin each, but this may come to little comfort to their families now as the hoard is presently valued at around $3.2m.

Staffordshire Hoard

They just can't get enough of their hoards in England, can they? This one is actually an Anglo-Saxon hoard though and was unearthed in the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, England by metal detector enthusiast Terry Herbert.

David Rowan - Staffordshire Hoard/commons.wikimedia.org

It consists of over 3,500 items, amounting to a total of 5.1 kg (11 lb) of gold, 1.4 kg (3 lb) of silver and some 3,500 pieces of garnet cloisonné jewelry making it the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever found. Most of the objects appear to be military pieces and, considering the amount found, the condition and the level of craftsmanship put into them, are all extremely valuable in terms of historic discovery. The hoard was purchased jointly by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery for £3.285 million under the Treasure Act 1996 which is approximately $4.4m

The First Ever Superman Comic

Buying a home is hardly ever a cheap investment, but David Gonzalez got himself a fixer-upper for just over $10,000 and set to work refurbishing and renovating the property to a suitable standard and to his own tastes. It was when completely redoing the garage that he discovered that previous occupants had stuffed the walls with old newspapers and comic books as a form of cheap insulation.

Philipp Lenssen/Flickr.com

One such comic book was Action Comics issue number 1, which many comic book fans will recognize as the very first time the character of Superman was introduced to the world. Comic books at the time were not considered as the collector's pieces they are today and were often disposed of straight after reading, as such, this edition is incredibly rare and desperately clamored after by collectors. David put the comic up for auction, and it fetched a whopping $175,000 dollars, easily recouping what Mr. Gozalez had paid for the house and then some.

Ringlemere Cup

So it seems that the whole of England is just paved with ancient artifacts just below the surface as another metal detectorist found a treasure when scouring the grounds of Ringlemere barrow near Sandwich in the English county of Kent in 2001. Although somewhat crushed by a plow at some point, the Ringlemere cup is one of only seven other unstable, handleless gold cups found across Europe and thus makes it a national treasure.

Portable Antiquities Scheme/Flickr.com

A bronze age vessel created by hammering a single piece of gold it is thought that the cup was not a grave good, but a votive offering independent of any inhumation. It was bought by the British Museum for £270,000 (roughly US$520,000), with the money paid split between Bradshaw and the Smith family who own Ringlemere Farm.

Frome Hoard

It's a hoard, so we'll give you three guesses where it was found...if you said England then congratulations, you're on the money, all £320,250 of it, which is what The Museum of Somerset in Taunton, using a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF), paid for the hoard in 2011.

Portable Antiquities Scheme/Flickr.com

A collection of 52,503 Roman coins found in April 2010 by metal detectorist Dave Crisp near Frome in Somerset, England, it was found buried near the coast in a ceramic pot an thus is likely to have been an offering to the gods. The coins were issued during the reign of Carausius, who ruled Britain independently from 286 to 293 and was the first Roman Emperor to strike coins in Britain, and singular coins of a similar kind had been found by Dave nearby, and so he persisted until finding this collection.

Coca-Cola Stock Certificate

Purchasing a cool looking stock certificate from a garage sale, Tony Marohn thought that Palmer Union Oil company was now a defunct business and so he paid $5 for the item just as a curiosity. However, Marohn went on to later discover that Palmer Oil went on to become the massive soft drinks maker Coca-Cola and that his stock certificate could now be worth $130m!


Coca-Cola refuted the fact, and so Marohn took them to court for a whole year, sadly passing away before it's resolution. Although Tony died in 2010, his family kept up the legal battle and eventually won a payout of $1.8m from the beverage giant, which is only a drop in the ocean compared to what it could have been but let's not be greedy here.

The King's Bed

A bed thrown out of a hotel by builders in Chester England, was purchased by a passer-by for £2,200 (about $2905) as the hotel had no use for it and it was a gorgeously kept four poster bed frame, but it's ornate decoration and rather frivolous carving from the finest wood suggested it was something more than just an ordinary bed.

Michael Sittow/commons.wikimedia.org

The new owner, Ian Coulson, now had their interest piqued and took the item to TV historian Jonathan Foyle who tested it for DNA only to find that it was the bed of King Henry VII and it could have possibly been where Henry VII's oldest son Arthur, and Henry VII himself, were conceived. It is now valued at around £20m ($26.4m).

A Piece of A Dynasty

Buying a relatively austere bowl for $3 from a garage sale, one New York family were none the wiser to the true value of the ceramic bowl that sat on their dining room table for six years until they discovered it may be worth a tiny bit more than what they paid for after becoming curious about its true value.

A similar piece of Ding Ware pottery /commons.wikimedia.org

Taking it to Sotheby's, the famous auction house estimated its value at $200–300,000 but when they put it up for sale, the vogue for collecting such antiquities carried its final price to a jaw-dropping $2.2m!

Andy Warhol's Childhood Sketch

A British businessman bought a painting at a garage sale assuming it was done by a child and that his measly $5 would go a little way to help out the sellers. He later discovered that the picture was indeed drawn by a child but a very notable one.

Jack Mitchell/commons.wikimedia.org

A picture of the 1930s singer Rudy Vallee, it was sketched by a 10-year-old Andy Warhol whilst at home, in bed with cholera. It was valued at $2m but the businessman Andy Fields has thus far retained it.

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