The Vanished Man

September 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Posted in Finds | 4 Comments

electronics-junk-box234Last Saturday, an ad was placed on Craigslist stating that an entire apartment in our town was being emptied and the stuff would be put out for free at 1 p.m. … So we two scavengers and a handful of others showed up. A cleanup team was bringing stuff out one box at a time. Some of it — like some very gross food — they poured directly into the Dumpster. But most of the stuff they set out along the sidewalk. We assumed that the tenant had died, but then talked to a neighbor who said she’d heard a rumor that the guy had simply walked away one day without paying rent, leaving everything behind.

Apartment or house clearouts are always very humanizing and interesting experiences and these, too, are a kind of spiritual thing because you are suddenly seeing someone’s life unfiltered, and by picking through their stuff you are (a) being a creepy little vermin, like a rat, but also (b) “inheriting” their things that would otherwise be thrown away and cease to mean anything to anyone.

It’s also interesting in a historical and psychological sense because all the stuff is clues to who this vanished person was. So from that apartment’s stuff, we concluded the following: that the former tenant was a very, very large man (we could tell from the size of the clothes); that he liked guns (there were holsters, ammunition boxes, and paper targets full of holes); that he liked comics (there were piles of comics, some carefully preserved in cellophane wrappers); and that he loved porn. There was soooo much porn … videos, magazines … which made us jump to the conclusion that, along with everything else, the guy was really lonely. Why do we assume that? Surely some happy and/or sexually active people who are not at all lonely also like porn. But man. There were like tons of it, mostly magazines from the ’80s.

To be honest, there really wasn’t much we wanted to take, even though it was all free. I found a couple of very large T-shirts in solid black which I might hem really short and paint with whimsical designs, which is something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I acquired (for free) a bag of fabric paints.

I also found a nice polished green stone among the guy’s belongings, which I kept. I just hope he never used it in any way connected with the porn.

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Did a Viking Horde Hide a Viking Hoard?

August 30, 2009 at 9:37 am | Posted in Finds | 4 Comments

viking_hoardIt’s one of those couldn’t-happen-in-America stories. A treasure worth millions of dollars has been unearthed in England … again.

As we read in the Daily Mail:

“An impressive Viking hoard of jewellery has made a father and son metal-detector team £1m richer, after being bought by two British museums. The find, which is the ‘largest and most important’ since 1840, was found in a field in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in January 2007. It had been buried there for more than 1,000 years. Valued at £1,082,000, the hoard was purchased by the British Museum and the York Museum Trust after two years of fundraising.

“The highlight of the collection is an intricately carved silver cup, estimated to be worth more than £200,000. It contains 617 coins and various silver fragments, ingots and rings. Some of the pieces were from as far away as Afghanistan.
The treasure is believed to have belonged to a rich Viking who buried it during the unrest following the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in 927 by the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan. It is believed he was unable to go back to the hoard, possibly as a result of turbulence during the period.

“Conservation work on the find began about a month ago and experts hope the process will reveal crucial details about the Viking era.Initial examinations suggest the treasure dates back to AD927 or 928. Experts have spent over a month cleaning the hoard, often with a porcupine spine, to protect the delicate collection. The process, performed under microscope, has already revealed intricate designs which were invisible when the hoard was first discovered….

“Finders David Whelan, 53, and Andrew, 37, from Leeds, said: ‘Being keen metal detectorists, we always dreamed of finding a hoard but to find one from such a fantastic period of history is just unbelievable.
‘The contents of the hoard we found went far beyond our wildest dreams and hopefully people will love seeing the objects on display in York and London for many years to come.’ The pair will share the £1,082,000 with the owners of the field, who wished to remain anonymous.”

Wait — so, doing the math, can we assume that David became Andrew’s father at age sixteen? And they’re still pals, doing things together? That’s rare, and commendable. And now they’ve scavenged over a million dollars’ worth of historic goodies.

Scavenged from Shipwreck, Heirloom Is Returned

August 18, 2009 at 8:33 am | Posted in Finds | 2 Comments

watchThis is one of my total fav kinds of scavenging story, the kind that made me decide at around age four that I wanted to be a beachcomber when I grew up. (And I did become one, for two years as a student at UC Santa Barbara and then, later, for about three months on the Oregon coast in 1989, but unfortunately I’m not one right now.) I mean, this story has EVERYTHING: A sea captain dying under mysterious circumstances. A shipwreck. A rhyming name. A sunken treasure discovered by a scavenger….

Burma. Rice. The surname Cowell. Everything!!!

According to today’s Daily Mail:

“A silver pocketwatch discovered near the site of a shipwreck has been returned to the family of its original owner 130 years after it was lost. Diver Rich Hughes spotted the timepiece glinting in the sand as he explored the seabed near a wreck off the Welsh coast. After bringing it to the surface, he saw the words ‘Richard Prichard 1866 Abersoch North Wales’ engraved on the casing. [Photo above, courtesy of Wales News Service.]

“The 38-year-old said: ‘I was amazed that the watch was in such good condition after laying at the bottom of the sea for generations. As soon as I saw the name it started me thinking about Richard Prichard. I knew he would be the master and commander of the ship — none of the crew would be able to afford a valuable timepiece.’

“Prichard was the captain of the Barbara, a square-rigged barque which sank during a storm off the Pembrokeshire coast in 1881. But he had already died, in mysterious circumstances, during the voyage to pick up a cargo of rice from Burma.

“The captain died during a voyage to Burma and was buried at sea. His name was etched into the memorial of his parents in North Wales. He was buried at sea and a new master, known only as Captain Jones, became the watch’s custodian — probably intending to give it to the Prichard family after arriving in Liverpool. But the ship never returned. Captain Jones’ lack of navigational skills meant that he sailed up the Bristol Channel instead of St George’s Channel heading towards Liverpool. The vessel was then hit by a storm and the Barbara sank off the village of Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, in November 1881. All the crew were rescued by lifeboat with the exception of Captain Jones who went down with his ship.

“Mr Hughes said: ‘It’s possible that he died with the silver watch in his pocket. His remains are long gone but the watch survived, possibly because it became buried in sediment which would have preserved it. But I felt that although I’d found it the watch wasn’t mine and I wanted to return it to its rightful owner.’

“Mr Hughes, of Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, used the internet to scan old manuals and shipping records but his research came to a dead end. So he brought in amateur historian David Roberts to trace Capt Prichard’s family. Mr Roberts said: ‘I knew the inscription said he was from Abersoch so I visited two cemeteries in the area. I came across a gravestone of someone who might have been Capt Prichard’s father.’

“Eventually Mr Roberts traced the Prichard family tree back as far as 1788 and found out his grandfather was also a sea captain: ‘Through his family tree I was able to trace Captain Prichard’s descendants and was amazed to find they are still living in North Wales.’

“Mr Roberts discovered two memorials to Capt Prichard — one on the grave of his parents and the other of his grave of his wife and child. The watch, which was seized up and will never work again, will be handed to retired dentist Owen Cowell, of Pwllheli, North Wales later this month. Mr Cowell’s grandmother was Captain Prichard’s cousin, making him the closest surviving family member. He said today: ‘I am delighted the watch has come home after all these years. It has come as a complete surprise to me that my ancestors had such a colourful, seafaring past.’

“The timepiece, made by North Wales watchmaker Richard Thomas, will go on display in the village hall at Porthmadoc later this year.”

Ancient Warrior’s Skeleton Found on Beach

August 10, 2009 at 7:26 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

4.1202498460.nettuno-beachNow THIS is a beachcomber’s dream. From Taragana.com:

“Archaeologists have found the skeleton of a warrior from up to 5,000 years ago floating in a tomb filled with sea water on a beach near Rome, Italy’s art squad said Friday.

“The bones — believed to date from the 3rd millennium B.C. — were discovered in May as art hunters were carrying out routine checks of the region’s archaeological areas, Carabinieri art squad official Raffaele Mancino said.

“Archaeologists believe the warrior was likely killed by an arrow, part of which was found among his ribs, Mancino said. There was also a hole in the back of the skull, and six vases and two daggers were found buried nearby.

“The tomb of the warrior, nicknamed ‘Nello’ after the archaeologist who found him, could be part of a wider necropolis lying just a few steps from the sea, Mancino told a news conference.

“’We will check the area to see whether this tomb is isolated and the warrior was buried here because this was the battlefield where he died’,” Mancino said. ‘Or maybe there is a bigger necropolis, as we indeed believe.’

“The tomb, hidden in the bushes on a public beach in Nettuno [depicted in photo], about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Rome, was excavated in less than one day to preserve it from sea water erosion, Mancino said. Part of it has already been damaged.

“The warrior’s bones will be examined and eventually put on display, officials said.

“The beach remains open, though the area of the discovery has been cordoned off.”

And just to think: We, the authors of The Scavengers’ Manifesto, have been to Nettuno while working on a previous book. How the heck did we miss this 5,000-year-old skeleton?? Not that we would have kept it or anything.

Did a Medieval Relic Turn Up at a Secondhand Sale?

August 6, 2009 at 9:26 am | Posted in Finds | 1 Comment

templarCar-boot sales are England’s version of swap meets. So when we read in the Daily Mail about a man who recently bought what might be a priceless relic of the Knights Templar at a Yorkshire car-boot sale, we think: Wow!! The lucky shopper (seen at left; photo from the Daily Mail) isn’t just an average joe. He’s an antiques dealer, so he knows what to look for:

“The small piece of painted wood is believed to have come from a box which the Knights Templar used to protect religious items as they moved across Europe during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Quite how this ornate piece of wood found its way to a car boot sale in Yorkshire is anyone’s guess. But it could bring Leeds antiques dealer Martin Roberts a big windfall at the next stop on its unlikely journey — an auction house in London.

“Analysts believe the item, which measures 10 inches by four inches, is the lid or door from a tabernacle and could be 1,300 years old. If the piece commands a large sum, it would be a second major triumph in two years for Mr Roberts, who bought an ancient Egyptian artefact for £50 and sold it for £30,000 in 2007.

“He acquired the tabernacle door from a friend at a car boot sale in Otley, in exchange for a pine chest of drawers and six Victorian glass handles which he had bought for only £13….”

Well, if he bought it from his friend, and it turns out to be real, wouldn’t you say he owes his friend a percentage of the profits?

“Mr Roberts said the item would be analysed by experts at auctioneers Christie’s before becoming one of the lots at the firm’s Old Master sale in London in December: ‘Christie’s have never sold a tabernacle door because they’ve never seen one, so we really have no idea what it might fetch,’ he added. ‘It will be very interesting to see what happens after the people at Christie’s have done their research because I think the Roman soldier depicted on it may well have a name. People have told me that it’s likely to date back to between 700 and 1200AD, but I would rather let Christie’s do some carbon testing on the wood before I estimate how old it might be.’

“Mr Roberts, a former professional golf player and keen guitarist, began selling antiques online in 2003, taking it up while he cared for his wife Maria, who died from cancer the following year: ‘If the tabernacle door sells for £600, it sells for £600,’ he said. ‘If it sells for £6m, then of course that would be absolutely fine by me. It’s not the money that matters to me; it’s the absolute buzz of doing the research and meeting wonderful people who are so knowledgeable about their subject.'”

Yeah. Plus the money.

Treasure Hunter Credits Dead JFK Jr. in Finding Sunken Pirate Ship

July 20, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Finds, News | 1 Comment

From beyond the grave, JFK Jr. is helping a Cape Cod treasure hunter find sunken pirate loot — at least, that’s what the treasure hunter says.

According to the Boston Herald, “Barry Clifford is set to jump back into the waters off Wellfleet this week, seeking to bring up millions of dollars’ worth of pirate treasure from the sunken ship Whydah.” Clifford told the Herald that JFK Jr. had worked on the shipwreck 25 years ago and reported seeing a row of cannons there but, despite diving and searching, the famous young Kennedy was never able to recover anything.

“But two years ago, Clifford and his crew went back to the same spot, dug down deeper, and found 30 cannons, side by side. ‘They were right where John had said they were,’ Clifford said. ‘One of the divers came up with a compass. He said, “You’re not going to believe this.” I turned it over, and it had the initials JFK on it. John had lost it the first time he dived down there.’

“Clifford, who has been bringing up artifacts from the sunken ship for more than two decades, said he believes the bulk of the pirate booty will be found underneath the spot where those cannons were buried.

“’We know from records that the Whydah turned bottoms up before she sunk,’ he said. ‘The cannons were on the bottom of the ship for ballast. But when the ship turned over, the cannons crashed through the decks, and went to the bottom, pinning everything on the decks in between, underneath them.” …

“Clifford and his crew — aboard their boat Vast Explorer — will attempt to retrieve the treasure over the next few months. The 64-year-old treasure-hunter already has unearthed a wealth of pirate paraphernalia — clothing, weapons, tools and the like — from the ship, the only authenticated pirate ship ever recovered.

“Some of the booty is housed in his museum in Provincetown. …

“The Whydah, originally a slave ship, was captured by pirate prince Samuel ‘Black’ Bellamy in 1717. Bellamy hijacked and plundered 54 other vessels with the Whydah, before running it aground off Wellfleet in a ferocious nor’easter. All but two of the 146 pirates on board were killed and the bulk of its treasure has yet to be found.”

Wallet Found in Tree

July 7, 2009 at 6:43 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

BlackCherryTrunkIs there anyplace on earth that isn’t scavengeworthy? Stuff could turn up anywhere, anytime. As reported in the New York Post via KTVU-TV, a wallet missing since 1982 has just turned up inside a tree:

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, but a tree-care supervisor in New York City’s Central Park found an old wallet inside a dead one.

“The blue leather wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket 27 years ago. It was found in the hollow of a dying cherry tree. It was near where Ruth Bendik had hers swiped while she watched the New York City Marathon in 1982.
The 69-year-old Upper East Side resident says the only thing missing was $20 in cash. Her credit cards were still there. So were her student ID from Columbia University Teachers College and an employee ID from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“The park worker says he found the wallet last week under five feet of compost. Police tracked down Bendik the next day.”

Big Find = Big Spat

July 4, 2009 at 8:57 am | Posted in Finds | 3 Comments

darkeIf you’re going to find a priceless cache of nearly a thousand ancient gold coins, maybe it’s best to go it alone.

According to yesterday’s Daily Mail, “a huge hoard of more than 800 gold coins dating back to the time of Boadicea” — that’s circa 61 CE — “has so far brought only bitterness for metal detecting enthusiast Michael Darke [depicted at left] and his former friend Keith Lewis [depicted at right].lewis

“Lorry driver Mr Darke was alone when he found the first few coins in a Suffolk field,” but instantly alerted his buddy, Lewis, who said he would ” be more than happy to join the search if he could find just one gold coin to add to his collection. Within an hour of arriving in the field, the pair had unearthed the remains of an Iron Age cooking pot containing another 773 gold coins — the largest such haul found in Britain since 1849. Yet more were found later.coins

“They are thought to have been buried by the Iceni tribe, whose Queen Boadicea led a revolt against the occupying Romans in AD 61. Mr Darke had permission from farmer Clifford Green, 66, to use his metal detector on the 200-acre farm in return for splitting the value of any find.”

And that’s the right and ethical way to go about treasure-hunting on private property, by the way.

“But Mr Lewis … who has known Mr Darke for 15 years … is suggesting that farmer Green and his family keep 50 per cent of the proceeds while he and Mr Darke share the other half equally.”

Darke was the initial finder, but the question remains as to whether Lewis — who quickly joined the search, but was not the initial finder — deserves half of the half. An inquest on the matter has failed to reach a decision. Nonetheless, the pair’s scavenging efforts have paid off bigtime for the property owners.

“The find was revealed in January, a few days before Mr Green retired following a lifetime on the farm. He said at the time: ‘I thought it was a joke at first because it was close to April 1 last year.’ His wife Val added: ‘When my husband had the coins laid out on the table that night my first reaction was to cry. They are so beautiful. To think that they were in the ground all that time is amazing.’

“A British Museum valuation committee will have to consider how much the coins are worth.

“Mr Lewis said that his initial research had indicated a value of between £300,000 and £500,000.

“He said he had been interested in metal detecting since 1982 and devoted much of his spare time to his hobby. His previous finds include a George III sovereign, Roman coins and a 14th century gold ring worth which sold at Sotheby’s for £4,300. Mr Lewis said Mr Darke had invited him to help with the search because he recognised him as a more experienced metal-detecting enthusiast. Mr Darke said after the [inquest] that he had not reached any agreement with Mr Lewis.

“‘I am not discussing that. I have come to no arrangements with anybody. We are not here to talk about money. I don’t go metal detecting for money. I do it out of historical interest — but if somebody is going to stand up and throw money at me, I am not going to not take it.’

“Asked if he had any advice to other would-be treasure hunters, he said: ‘Check the rules. Make sure you get permission and be careful who you tell and don’t tell. Tell the landowner first and be careful who you go with because it can backfire.'”

Be careful who you tell. So, so true.

I Love Stories Like This

June 27, 2009 at 9:48 am | Posted in Finds | 1 Comment

441Scavenged on a New Hampshire beach: a 40 million-year-old tooth.

According to the Seacoast Online, “The woman who found a rare fossilized Great White shark tooth at Hampton Beach has decided to donate what she calls the ‘find of her lifetime’ to the University of New Hampshire.

“‘What was I going to do with it?’ asked 63-year-old Diann Barber, who lives on the beach. ‘It would just sit in a drawer and I would take it out every once and a while and say, Oh wow.’

“Hunt Howell of the Coastal Marine Laboratory at UNH accepted the donation of the tooth last week and told Barber the university will use it for educational purposes as well as keep it on display in the Rudman Biological Science Building….

“Barber called donating the tooth the end of an incredible journey. She found the fossilized shark tooth several months ago while searching for sea glass along the shore of Hampton Beach. What appeared to be an odd looking sea shell, she said, turned out to be a tooth of some kind.

“‘Something made me go back and pick it up,’ Barber said. ‘I didn’t know what it was. You find all kinds of things at the beach you never expect to see — beer tabs, cigarette butts, condoms….’

“After the find, her husband, Bill Levis, said his wife spent countless hours researching what kind of tooth it was…. David Bohaska at the Smithsonian aided in identifying the tooth by having Robert W. Purdy, a retired museum specialist, who is an expert on fossilized sharks, take a look at it.

“‘He confirmed that it is carcharodon carcharias, the Great White shark,’ Bohaska said. ‘Bob tells me that this species is known from the Miocene Epoch (about 15 million years ago) to the present.’

“Exactly how old it is and how it got to Hampton Beach is still the question. Bohaska said it’s hard to pinpoint the age of the tooth because Barber found it on the shore. If it was found encrusted in rocks or cliff, it would have been easier to pinpoint a rough time frame. In general it takes approximately 10,000 years for a tooth to become a true fossil, he said.

“Barber said she has enjoyed learning about sharks. ‘I called it doing my homework,’ Barber said. ‘It was really cool to learn about how long ago it existed and how large the animal was. I’m sad that it’s all over. I temporarily had it wrapped around my neck because it was kind of a spiritual thing because it is so old and rare…. This was a really cool journey that will be in my heart always. It was a unique experience in my life.’

“In return for her donation, Barber received a Wildcats sweatshirt and also a mug with a photo of the tooth that she found on it….

“Barber said she still walks the beach every day looking for her next find. ‘I doubt that I will find anything as cool as the shark tooth, but you never know…. There is always something to find at Hampton Beach…. Maybe there is another treasure waiting for me.'”

I love stories like this.

Man Bags $30,000 for Scavenged Mammoth

May 29, 2009 at 10:25 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

mammothStrolling beside the Khroma River in the Siberian republic of Yakutia recently, Igor Lebedev noticed something sticking slightly out of the ground. Further inspection revealed it to be a baby mammoth that had been preserved in the permafrost before the river partly bared it, according to MosNews:

“Specialists of the Republican Mammoth Museum studied the find and alleged it to be a young mammoth corpse some 15,000-30,000 years old. The animal, who died at about two years of age, had its head, legs and some intestines well-preserved in the cold climate.”

The article goes on to say that in exchange for handing over his find, Lebedev “will now receive a reward of 1 million rubles,” which amounts to around US $30,000. Authorities are publicizing the reward, which was announced on Wednesday, in order “to avert mammoth corpses being sold on the black market rather than being given for research….

“In the past few years, mammoths have regularly been found in Russia. In 2004, the corpse of a one-year-old mammoth was found in Yakutia; in 2007, an extremely well-preserved six-month-old female was found in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area.” It is unknown how many have been scavenged and sold on the black market.

(The photo above, which accompanies the MosNews report, is from TopNews.ru.)

Raunchy Pix Pop Up on Scavenged iPod

May 29, 2009 at 7:58 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

aplipod3gA man who scavenged a secondhand iPod by buying it cheaply at a London shop, the Computer Exchange, found naughty pictures of scantily clad women on it when he took it home.

According to ThisIsLocalLondon, “The iPod also showed a young man posing with what looks like an air pistol.” Said the buyer, 27-year-old Kristian Towell of Brighton: “The photos were under different categories, which included ‘chicks,’ ‘me,’ ‘wifey’ and ‘family.’ The ones under ‘me’ are of a guy. In some of them he has his shirt off, in another he is posing with a gun. The photos under ‘wifey’ are pretty decent, but the ones under ‘chicks’ are quite raunchy.”

He said the pictures looked as if they were taken with a mobile phone.

“One of the pictures of a fully clothed girl looking back over her shoulder has the word ‘tramp’ scrawled on it. Others show a young woman posing in her underwear. The rest are of a man posing in a hoodie. One shows a man’s torso.”

In addition, Towell said, the iPod “was full of terrible music.”

Scavenged goods are full of surprises.

Vet’s Cremains Bought at Garage Sale

May 25, 2009 at 8:49 am | Posted in Finds, News | 1 Comment

purpleheartAnd now for our Memorial Day scavenging news: After being inadvertently purchased at an Oklahoma garage sale, a Vietnam vet’s cremains have been given a proper funeral. According to the Tulsa World, war wounds left Army Pvt. Warren A. Nicholls paralyzed. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

After Nicholls died in 1987, his mother “apparently could not give her son a proper military burial, so she put his cremated remains in a trunk along with some of his belongings.” At the time of her death in 2002 in Forth Worth, Texas, she had no known relatives. So a friend brought the trunk containing the soldier’s cremains to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Eventually it ended up at a garage sale, where customer John Belding “didn’t know exactly what he had acquired when he obtained the trunk for $5.” An antique collector, he noticed at first only that it contained militaria. Upon finding the cremains and the Purple Heart, he offered to return these immediately to the seller, who did not want them.

Belding then went “to Don Clapsaddle, chief of staff for the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Oklahoma. Clapsaddle said it was clear to him that Nicholls deserved a proper military send-off…. While the particulars of Nicholls’ story are unique, the situation is not as rare as one might think. The Missing in America Project has been working nationwide for more than two years to locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of otherwise forgotten American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations. According to the group’s Web site, 571 such cremains have been identified to date, with 387 interred so far.”

During a ceremony this Saturday, Nicholls’ cremains were placed in a granite memorial in the Field of Honor at Broken Arrow’s Floral Haven Memorial Garden.

Buried-Treasure Backyard

May 19, 2009 at 7:36 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

gardening_spade_and_rake_4While gardening in her backyard, Jan Long has dug up hundreds of valuable antiques including a gold watch, a diamond ring, a Victorian corkscrew and ancient Roman coins. According to the Daily Mail, Long — who lives in Herefordshire, near the border between Great Britain and Wales — “unearths an antique … nearly every time she weeds her borders or tends her vegetable patch….

“The mother of three has also found more than a hundred coins — some of them Roman, and an Austrian Crown from 1780 — as well as brooches and medals in her 150ft long garden. Among the more bizarre are a plough, a gate and a wheelbarrow.

“Her unusual ‘crop’ began when she took up gardening six years ago after she and husband Dr Richard Long, 70, a retired university lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies, moved to the rural property near Ledbury….

“Jan, 57, said: ‘I decided I wanted to move one of the magnolia bushes to the other side of the garden. But when I was digging up the roots I suddenly started hitting something hard…. There were hundreds of bottles beneath the soil … lemonade bottles, blue vials, enamel bottles and all sorts, some of them are over 150 years old. That was just the start of it really, nearly everytime I’m out in the garden I make a new find.’ …

“As well as thousands of 19th century bottles, she has found hundreds of other tiny trinkets alongside a huge working plough. Her most recent discovery has been a treasure trove of coins, including Victorian pennies, an Austrian Crown dated 1780, a King Crown dated 1935 and an 1837 Canadian Bank Token…. Biddell and Webb auctioneers in Birmingham have valued some of the collection and say the main items such as the diamond ring and the watch could earn Jan several hundred pounds….

“Jan believes that he fact the house was built in the 15th century could go some way to explaining why there was so many unusual items: ‘My favourite item is a tiny wooden locket carved out of wood into a rose, which unusually opens from left to right and is so intricate and beautiful. I really have no idea to the total value but the monetary value is not that important to me. It is more the tales which can be woven around each item that I find fascinating. I’ve really loved discovering them all and am looking forward to what’s going to turn up next.'”

Twilight Sequel Script Scavenged from Trash

May 12, 2009 at 7:39 am | Posted in Finds | 10 Comments

twilight-still-staringIncredibly valuable screenplays for the forthcoming Twilight sequel and another forthcoming film were recently scavenged from a St. Louis trash bin. Because scripts for forthcoming films are normally kept very secret, these could have been sold to tabloids for big money, but the finder decided not to, according to the Morning Call.

While waiting for her fiancé to finish work, beauty-salon owner Casey Ray noticed some interesting-looking documents in a trash bin outside a hotel where actors were staying during a shoot for the upcoming George Clooney flick Up in the Air. Ray’s find amounted to “two scripts, one for the vampire sequel New Moon and one for a different movie titled Memoirs. She decided to return them to the studio making the films. In return, she was invited to attend the movies’ premieres….

“It’s not clear how the scripts wound up in the bin…. When Ray found the scripts, she considered leaking them to a national tabloid but decided against it, said her lawyer, Al Watkins. ‘My client didn’t really want to get paid,’ he said, but she was interested in hanging onto the scripts as collectors’ items. Watkins helped her return them to Los Angeles-based Summit Entertainment LLC, the studio making the movies. He said the studio invited Ray to premieres for the two films, and will certify the scripts as authentic after the movies are released….

“The Twilight movies are based on the novels of Stephenie Meyer, so many of the plot turns are well known to readers. But keeping the New Moon script … out of the public eye preserves which elements of the book will be included in the film.”

But will Summit Entertainment pay Ray’s way to those premieres?

Rare Sinatra Tape, Scavenged

May 11, 2009 at 11:33 am | Posted in Finds | 2 Comments

IMG_0653An extremely rare recording of Frank Sinatra singing and chatting was bought for a song at a car-boot sale — which is an English scavenging venue rather like a rummage sale, but with the merchandise sold out of vans, trucks and car trunks in a field or parking lot. (A typical car-boot sale, the William Morris Car Boot Sale in Walthamstow, is depicted at left.)

A man bought the tape for £10 ten years ago, then recently played it for a music-history expert wondering whether it might be worth anything, according to Chronicle Live.

The expert, David Harper, calls it genuine and “an absolutely staggering find. It was recorded in secret many years ago. Frank Sinatra can be heard chatting and then singing a lovely song, ‘East of the Sun,’ in his own special way. There are some copyright problems with it, but I am certain that if it came up at a leading auction in London, it would sell for tens of thousands.”

On the tape, the person making the recording can be heard saying that he shouldn’t be doing it. Luckily, he overcame his conscience and clicked “record.” Great find!

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