The thrill that you get when you score a deal is simply the best, especially if it happens during a yard sale and you get to turn someone else’s garbage into your own treasure. Yard sales can become a little treasure hunting game for adults, and there’s nothing like finding your very own pot of gold at a bargain. This is what happened to Emil Knodell during one of the backyard scavenger hunts he enjoys doing.
With a knack for rare antiques, Emil found just the treasure that he had set out for at this particular yard sale – an old dresser. He said that after buying the piece of furniture, he heard strange noises that came from one of its drawers, so he opened it and found something he definitely wasn’t expecting! When you finish reading this, you will probably be heading towards the nearest yard sale or a thrift shop near you!
67-year-old Emil Knodell is a US veteran and retired Marketing Director from Texas, who is also fascinated with treasure hunting. Most of his free time is spent sifting through various yard and estate sales in the hope of coming across something valuable that the original owner no longer wants and is trying to dispose of.
Lady Luck On His Side
He must have done something good since Lady Luck was on Emil’s side on that particular day and he found the treasure during his quest in Missouri, Texas. For Emil, the day started out like any other and there was nothing out of the ordinary at this particular estate sale that he visited. He had no idea that when he would leave this sale, his whole life would change because of a discovery, which would make his otherwise ordinary story a national sensation.
The Odds Were Low
The odds were very bleak when it came to finding a valuable antique at a really low price, and Emil was well aware of this, but it didn’t keep him from sifting through the estate sale since his gut was telling him something good was going to happen.
Premier Estate Sales
He learned that the company Premier Estates Sales Network was organizing this particular event. Companies like Premier Estates Sales Network have a reputation to uphold, so they would surely thoroughly check their items in order to make sure everything was going at a fair price. After all, the company was reputable in terms of running estate sales, which means they certainly knew how to go about things.
Something Valuable Slipping Through
Nothing could stop Emil from sifting through this estate sale just like he would any other sale. He was trying his best to look for something valuable, but the company was also trying its best to make sure nothing valuable would slip through their hands. However, in the end, tightening their grip didn’t really do much since something huge still escaped their grasp.
An Open Mind
Emil later told reporters, “I always come to a sale with an open mind because you never know,” which is truly something every bargain hunter must always remember. They are called treasures because they don’t simply come out from anywhere, so this means that you should keep an open mind and be careful not to strike out as you are about to strike gold.
Nothing Out Of The Ordinary
While Emil was at the estate sale, there was an antique wooden dresser that stood out to him even though it looked just like other old dressers. It wasn’t particularly interesting but he felt a pull to the antique, so he wandered over to get a closer look at it.
He didn’t know how valuable it was but its age probably added charm to it and he later learned from the appraiser that the marble-top piece with three drawers goes back to the 1890s. After inspecting the dresser, Emil found all the drawers empty and as mentioned, the dresser was neither too fancy nor anything out of the ordinary. However, this didn’t stop him from buying the antique and fortunately for Emil, his decision was probably the best he made that day.
Three Days At The Sale
Lady Luck went with Emil the whole time he was scouring through the estate sale, or it could be that the proverb “third time’s a charm” is true. The dresser was actually at the estate sale for three days before it was purchased and the company was only too eager to have someone take the antique off their hands, agreeing to give it a bargain price.
On the first day, the dresser had a $300 price tag, but on its third day at the sale, the price had gone down to just $100 – at this rate, the antique wooden dresser from the 1890s would definitely be a steal. No one had any idea that this was not simply a small-scale steal.
A Bigger Steal
The 1890s dresser having a $100 price tag made the antique a steal, but that isn’t everything that’s special about this piece of furniture. It kept a secret as well, possibly for decades; something that even the owner and their relatives seemed to know nothing about.
Emil thought that his jackpot was getting the dresser for just $100, but it was quite apparently more than that – actually, around 150 times more than the amount he paid for. If that isn’t a jackpot, then what is?
Hiding A Secret
Aside from the great deal that Emil just scored, he didn’t notice anything extraordinary until after he purchased the dresser and was trying to get it into his car. At that point, he started suspected something strange about his newly acquired antique, and it was certainly not about the dresser’s external appearance.
Far Too Heavy
The piece of furniture was too heavy for him to carry alone, so he asked another person to help him get it into his car. Nobody realized it then, but the small gesture is exactly what led to the discovery of the antique’s well-kept secret – which Emil found out, needless to say. This proves that the saying is true: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Something Was Off
When a couple of guys came to help Emil, they noticed that something was off. While it is true that the antique dresser was way too heavy for a person to carry alone, there shouldn’t be a need for more than two people to get an empty dresser up. Nobody could put their finger on it, but something was certainly not right about the antique.
A Myriad Of Sounds
That being said, the guys laid the dresser on its side and then, a myriad of sounds could be heard coming from inside it, which was supposedly empty. This elicited different reactions from the guys, including surprise, curiosity, and confusion–especially the latter since they found nothing after they inspected it thoroughly.
The men did the inspection twice and took the task seriously, but no one found anything inside which could have caused the sounds that they had heard. There was also no sign of anything which may have caused the sound, so this made the men explore further.
A Crowd Formed
By this time, there was already a crowd that gathered around the dresser and the men out of curiosity, and these people knew then that the old dresser was hiding something though no one knew what it was. People’s curiosities were spiked by this and many stayed to also find out about the secret. What exactly made the seemingly unexplainable noise?
“As soon as we laid it down, it started making all this racket on the inside. Obviously, we were very intrigued with what was happening with the dresser,” shared Allen, one of the guys who helped Emil get the old dresser onto his truck.
What’s Going On?
Since all three drawers were proven empty many times, the curious bystanders concluded that there must be a secret compartment that is inside the dresser. This would explain the strange noise that they heard from it although they still wondered where this secret compartment was exactly, if there is one. The people eventually discovered it, albeit unintentionally.
The Secret Compartment Is Found
Laying the dresser down right side up did not seem to work, so the guys decided to lay it down on its back in order to check if there was a secret opening there. As it turned out, they made the right move since this was how they finally found the secret compartment that was apparently hidden from plain sight.
Hidden In The Base
As mentioned, the dresser has three drawers with moldings that are decorated on the outside, but what they didn’t know was that there was a compartment at the dresser’s base. It was a piece of wood that when you turn upside down will reveal a cut-out of what appeared to be a drawer handle.
A Genius Hiding Place
“When you look at the front of it, it looks like it has three obvious drawers with molding on the base. But the bottom has a secret drawer that opens up,” explained Emil. This was a genius hiding place since it’s actually right there in plain sight – no one would think of looking at it and apparently, nobody did until Emil and the guys decided to do so.
Anyone who had previously owned the dresser might have had their heads roll when they found out what was actually inside the antique. Can you imagine what the company felt once they learned that they had let such a treasure slip through their hands? Most of the secrets that the dresser kept were long-forgotten priceless antiques which even the estate sale organizers knew nothing about because if they did, they probably would have kept the dresser!
The estate sale was held to auction off items that a deceased man previously owned, and the antique dresser was included. Such sales often take place in order for the family of the deceased to properly dispose of the person’s unwanted belongings. These sales usually offer great deals since the family members are oftentimes unaware of each item’s value. Most of the time, the family really just want to dispose of the items since they don’t need the things or have no room for them. Fortunately for Emil, the 1890s dresser fit the bill.
The discovery doesn’t mean that no one had thought of checking the dresser previously as each item is thoroughly inspected before every estate sale to make sure nothing of value has been left inside by the owner. Unfortunately for the deceased’s family and the professional appraisers, no one had thought of looking for the secret compartment that held the hidden treasures.
No One Had A Clue
It’s actually interesting that the deceased’s immediate family never knew about the secret before the discovery and it’s highly likely that even the man himself had no idea about this as well. Apparently, the dresser had been part of the inheritance he received from his parents who lived in Michigan, so it isn’t far-fetched that he also never knew about the hidden treasures inside the dresser – treasures that were waiting to be found.
Emil definitely got more than what he bargained for as the seemingly three-drawer dresser was actually a four-drawer antique which held riches that no one knew about until that day. The marble top and beautiful intricacies of each drawer were already enough to bring Emil joy, but Lady Luck gave him much more.
Most people just wish to discover buried treasure, but he actually encountered one and (even better!) he gets to keep it. The secret compartment was apparently just one part of the reveal. What else was hiding in this mysterious dresser?
There was alot of excitement among the curious bystanders as Emil and Jeff Allen started opening the secret compartment. Everybody was anticipating this moment, the time when the secret was finally out and everyone got to see what it was.
The Moment Of Truth
The contents of the drawer elicited gasps from the crowd when Emil and Allen opened it. Nobody had expected to see anything hugely important, but the contents were not just treasures–they were actually trinkets which were apparently important American history artifacts. While the day started normally for everybody at the estate sale, it had just gotten far more interesting.
A Huge Adrenaline Rush
“It was a huge adrenaline rush,” Emil commented on opening the hidden drawer for the first time. Everybody held their breaths and expected to see a drawer full of money or a pot of gold, but unexpectedly, and quite fortunately, what they found was more than that…
Jewels, Money & Gold
In fact, the not-so-secret compartment was full of treasures of jewels, money, and gold! Emil, Allen, and everybody else around was shocked as they saw how many priceless items were inside. It was clear that no one had expected such a massive haul and for $100, it was certainly a steal!
A Real-Life Buried Treasure
Emil’s treasure hunting was definitely really successful that day because he found a real-life buried treasure while he was on his antique quest. This discovery is certainly one for the books because the fourth drawer contained money, jewelry, and mementos from all over the world and another surprise.
Quite The Investment
There were items like dog tags and military medals which dated back to the Civil War and quite curiously, a well-preserved lock of hair which was hidden amongst these treasures. Nobody knew whose hair it was, but what Emil did know was that the $100 he paid for the antique dresser was surely a great investment.
He found something truly priceless and in fact, the value of the things he discovered was way more than anything that he had ever imagined. Who would have thought you could get this out of a small town estate sale?
Very Interesting And Valuable
From plain view, the stash could be worth $15,000, although this wasn’t a professional appraisal. However, it was still quite a cashback, since a $14,900 gain was not what Emil had in mind when he first decided to buy this dresser, which to begin with, was very interesting and valuable given its old age.
Back To The Civil War
Initial appraisals by the organizers of the estate sale said that the drawer dates all the way back to the 1890s, a pretty good estimate based on how old its contents were. However, it may be even older considering the items that were found inside drawer – they go way back to the time period of the Civil War.
What Did He Do?
This may seem extraordinary, but what Emil decided to do with his discovery made the whole situation even more incredible. Everyone was shocked by his decision…he even surprised himself! Wait until you hear…
The Next Move
After the initial shock, everybody who witnessed this discovery had one question that lingered on their minds: What exactly is Emil planning to do with the loot? Many would probably sell everything off and keep the profit to himself, but what was the moral thing to do?
The Moral Thing
This question popped in Emil’s mind once he got over the initial shock of the discovery. Technically, he only purchased the dresser, not its contents, and what made things more complicated was that nobody knew about the contents before the discovery, so who exactly rightfully owns them?
Emil now had a dilemma – when he bought the antique dresser, the contents weren’t really part of the deal. He had the option to keep the items for himself, with the justification that he purchased the dresser, or return the contents to the next of kin of the deceased man.
Indeed, the situation was simply too good to be true. While the first option was tempting, many people have already seen the contents of the secret compartment and they all knew that this wasn’t Emil’s treasure to begin with. He knew he had to look for the family in good ol’ Bellville, Texas.
Give It All Back
The second option was to give everything back to the family since Emil believed this was the right thing to do morally. Emil is a good man, so this was not even a question for him and he opted to just return the contents to their rightful owner.
The Extraordinary One
Emil wasn’t really a “finders keepers” kind of guy, and this man deserves to be lauded for being a great guy! Others would have simply kept these treasures, but he chose the higher path and followed what his conscience was telling him, ignoring an immense profit that could have come out of his $100 purchase, so in this scenario, the extraordinary one is definitely Emil.
What A Guy
His values in life always included trying to do the right thing, even more so as Emil is a US veteran. At a challenging time like this, his strong moral compass actually overwhelmed him and this moment is truly something Emil could be proud of.
No Second Thoughts
Emil didn’t even hesitate for a second – there was no question – and he returned the items to the next of kin right away, who now had to decide what they would do with the treasures. Emil explained,“I bought the chest [of] drawers. I didn’t buy those things.”
An Admirable Man
And he added, “If I kept them, I would never feel right about it. There would be a cloud over the whole thing. It’s a feeling more than anything else.” For Emil, it was an easy choice which didn’t get second thoughts, since he always made decisions in accordance with what’s right. What he did was admirable, given the possible value of the treasures that he had given up.
Choosing To Do What’s Right
Jeff actually felt the same way, agreeing that the contents must be returned to the rightful owner. It’s even more heartwarming to learn that there are still people like Emil and Jeff who choose to do the right thing instead of putting themselves first.
He Was In The Dark
As it turns out, it wasn’t really hard to find the rightful owner since he was the person who executed the estate sale where the antique dresser had been purchased. Apparently, even he had no idea about the treasures since he was as shocked to learn about them as Emil was.
A Few Sightings
The dresser’s owner remembered seeing the piece of furniture a few times at his grandparents’ place in Michigan but he never imagined that there were really valuable items hidden inside it, and definitely not a whole drawer full of timeless and priceless antiques.
As to be expected, the owner felt eternally grateful that Emil returned the treasures instead of holding on to them. Emil later told reporters, “I’m an old ex-Marine, and I try to do the right thing.” As a matter of fact, he asked somebody to call the owner right away when they found the valuables since he was well aware that it was really important to return them. It was definitely a fantastic discovery, but Emil felt they were not his treasures to keep.
Netizens Weigh In
Emil, Jeff, and the rightful owner thought it was morally right and proper to return the items, but a lot of people on social media said they believed that Emil had the right to the treasures and should have kept them as his own. Clearly, these people believe the saying, “Finders keepers.” Some may think like this, but not Emil – these comments didn’t matter to him since he believed what he did was right.
No Matter The Amount
No amount of treasure should prevent him from following his moral and ethical compass. Keeping the contents for himself didn’t seem like it would spark peace and joy in him, now or ever, and many people agreed with this as well. Emil was congratulated and commended by many people for what he did, especially since discovering great treasures at a time like this can be a huge lift and could easily change one’s life entirely.
A Lesson To Learn
Emil did make the purchase after all and technically, the entire dresser was his, including the contents, but the fact remains that the items had a rightful owner – and Emil believed it wasn’t him. Some social media users said they believed the sentimental value the items had should be enough reason to give the items back, whether they are valuable treasures or not.
A Great Teacher
In addition, a lot of people don’t even realize they’re missing out on a good thing or, more importantly, something valuable until somebody points it out to them. Other social media users expressed that these precious items may have simply gotten lost and that they are pleased to the items are back where they belong. This was truly a lesson that many can learn from – and Emil was definitely a great teacher