It’s happened to most of us. You threw away damaged jeans and you had some money in it, thorn purse with your keys in it, or even something maybe meaningless to others but of great value to you, like favourite lipstick or a wedding ring. Maybe the most known case regarding this is when James Howells from Wales threw away his hard drive with 7500 bitcoins on it. This means he unknowingly discarded $7.5 million when he decided to get rid of his dismantled computer’s part. And what made the whole story even worse was that he bought these bitcoins for next to nothing.
So here are some things people threw away unknowingly over time which were worth a fortune then and still are. Maybe, this will make you think twice before throwing something away carelessly.
The winning lottery ticket
Lottery tickets can be quite a hook for anyone. But that day, after spending almost $2,000 on tickets, Kevin Donovan from Massachusetts threw away a bunch of scratch-offs thinking they’re worthless right outside the grocery in the bin. Edward St. John, an 83-year-old picked up Donovan’s discarded tickets as he did every day as a force of habit and became the winner of a $1 million prize. Since they both lived in a small town, soon enough the word of St. John’s luck spread around and Donovan found out of his habit to collect tickets and claimed that the winning one was actually his.
But Kevin Donovan couldn’t prove his allegations since the rules say that the prize belongs to the person with the lottery ticket. He died two months later and his children continued to pursue the fortune. St. John settled with them only so that he can get the money to think that he is too old and could soon die without getting his prize.
Nigel Reynolds was not the first to not believe in one of the most popular books and phenomena on the planet. Namely, he was the first journalist who had the privilege to interview J.K. Rowling long before she became the famous writer we know today. During that he received the first edition copy of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but thinking that it would be a failure, he threw it away in the trash without even looking at it. Today, first editions are worth up to £50,000 but to a true fan, the book is priceless.
Enigma code breakers
Enigma machines were unbreakable code communications between Nazi forces during the World War II. The British Government invested time and money into the facility and brilliant minds of that time to break it and give the Allied forces an upper hand in the war. But one of these Enigma code breakers ended up in the recycling plant without any record of who might be responsible for throwing away such a piece of history valued at $10,000.
One World Trade Centre blueprints
Before the sixth-tallest building in the world was even start building, it was called Freedom Tower and somehow its 150-page blueprints ended up in the trash. One World Trade Centre was build in the place of the 9/11 attacks at what’s known as Ground Zero. The blueprints contained very detailed and specific overview of the floor-by-floor plans so they were labelled “Confidential”. They were found by the homeless man recovering from drug addiction who immediately knew how important they were being one of the people who witnessed that horrendous day. The state institutions deemed these blueprints as a potential national security risk and that was later confirmed by the architect who reviewed them and said that they contain enough information for terrorists to perform an attack.
Rare Mayan artefacts
Just like Pinkjunk, Nick DiMola was hired to collect the things from the apartment of the late artist Clinton Hill and his partner Allen Tran in New York. But instead of throwing away the barrels and cardboard boxes the family didn’t want, he stored them at the warehouse in Queens. It took him five years to look inside and what he found was quite a surprise. He found rare ancient Mayan artefacts which were valued at $16,500. The group that hired him to collect the things tried to claim ownership over them, but the property became DiMola’s when they paid him $4,500 to throw away the Mayan artefacts in the trash.
Plutonium is the stuff of nightmares, but what was found in Washington State was truly what creates them. During the World War II, USA conducted research which will give them the ultimate weapon to win the war called the Manhattan Project. This project was supported by the UK and Canada and employed more than 130,000 people including the nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer. They used special kind of plutonium there 239 to create the bombs which will later be dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
This same type of plutonium was found in the garbage dump and although it wasn’t enough for the bomb, it could make quite an impact in the hands of the bomb-making experts.
In 2013 a couple from California was walking their dog when they spotted the eight cans buried on their property filled with gold coins. The worth was estimated to $10 million and a year later the find became public. It took so long for it to be publicized since the question of ownership was brought up since the 1,400 gold coins dated from 1847 to 1894 and thus couldn’t belong to the anonymous couple. But it turned out that it is the matter of finders-keepers rule and so they have legally declared the owners of the treasure.
The important factor for this ruling was that they found the gold on their property, but if they found it on someone else’s it would then belong to that landowner.
Besides being careful about what you throw away, you can also pay attention to your surroundings and maybe become the treasure hunter. We should always keep in mind that famous saying that “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and alert when we prepare to declutter our home.