Skip to comments.6 Lost Treasures Just Waiting To Be Found
Posted on 09/09/2009 12:46:50 PM PDT by BGHater
Last month we told you about people who stumbled upon their fortune. If you havent found your own copy of the Declaration of Independence or a few thousand Ancient Roman coins, let me give you a push in the right direction with these tales of lost treasures that are just waiting for you to find them.
Arthur Flegenheimer, who went by the alias Dutch Schultz, was a New York mobster during the 1920s and 30s known for his brutality and hard-nosed business tactics. By the time he was 33, Dutch had taken on the Mafia in numerous gangland wars, fought the U.S. government twice on tax evasion charges, and amassed a fortune thanks to his lucrative criminal operations.
As his second tax evasion trial began to take a turn for the worse, it appeared Schultz might be looking at jail time. In preparation, he placed $7 million dollars inside a safe, drove to upstate New York, and buried it in a hidden location so hed have a nest egg when he got out of prison. The only other person who knew where the safe was buried was the bodyguard who helped him dig the hole. Shortly after, both men were gunned down by hitmen inside the Palace Chophouse Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey.
On his deathbed, Schultz began hallucinating and rambling after the rusty bullets used by the assassins caused an infection. A court stenographer was brought in to record his statements and some believe his incoherent references to something hidden in the woods in Phoenicia, New York, might be a clue to the location of his buried loot. Of course the meaning of his words is cryptic and not 100% reliable, but that hasnt stopped hundreds of people from looking. So far, though, Dutchs safe has not been found.
Before Edgar Allan Poe was Edgar Allen Poe, he was just another struggling writer who couldnt catch a break. In 1827, he hired Calvin F. S. Thomas to publish 50 copies of his manuscript, Tamerlane and Other Poems, in the hopes that it would kick-start his career. Unfortunately, Tamerlane received no critical consideration at the time (and has only received middling reviews since), so Poes rise to fame would have to wait until he published The Raven nearly 20 years later in 1845.
Because the book had such a small, first editions have become one of the most sought after pieces in American literature. In all, only 12 copies are known to still exist, mostly held by libraries and museums. But there could easily be more that have gone unnoticed, because, for reasons unknown, Poes name does not appear as the author of the book; it is only attributed to A Bostonian. Without a familiar name on the cover, many people dismiss Tamerlane as a worthless collection of poems by some anonymous writer no ones ever heard of. It was this fact that allowed the last copy, found in 1988, to be purchased for a mere $15 from an antique store. At auction a month later, the book wound up fetching $198,000.
While yes, a dime could once buy you a phone call or a cup of coffee, today most people probably wouldnt even bother to pick one up if they saw it lying on the ground. But what if you found a few thousand dimes sitting around? And what if those dimes were over 100 years old?
A wagon train left Denver in 1907 carrying six large barrels filled with newly-minted Barber dimes, nicknamed after Charles Barber, the designer of the coin. The dimes were being delivered to Phoenix, Arizona, some 900 miles away, but the shipment never arrived. One theory is that the wagon train was attacked by bandits and, despite their armed escort, were unable to fend off the attack. Others believe the party might have plummeted hundreds of feet to the bottom of Colorados Black Canyon while navigating the treacherous mountain trails. All that can be said for sure is that neither the coins, nor the men carrying them, were ever seen again.
Now, a little over 100 years later, a single 1907 Barber dime in excellent condition fetches around $600. Assuming the barrels werent destroyed and the coins havent been exposed to the elements all this time, these missing coins should be fairly flawless. If you estimate 5,000 coins at $600 each, youre looking at $3,000,000. With that kind of dough, you could make an awful lot of phone calls.
In 1820, a mysterious stranger left a locked iron box with Robert Morriss, an innkeeper in Bedford County, Virginia. The stranger, who went by the name Thomas Jefferson Beale, said that a man would be coming to retrieve the box some time in the next ten years. However, if no one ever came, Morriss could keep the box and the contents inside.
But what was inside the box? Beale reluctantly revealed that there were three pages covered in numbers. These ciphertexts were coded messages that could only be read by using corresponding documents as a key. Beale promised to send the three keys to Morriss when he arrived in St. Louis, so that, should the box become Morriss, he could decipher the messages and learn the location of a treasure Beale had buried nearby.
Twenty years later, no one had ever come for the box, nor had Morriss received any key documents from St. Louis. He went ahead and opened the box, and spent the rest of his life trying to decode the pages to no avail. After his death, Morriss left the box to a friend, who, surprisingly, was able to decipher the second page using a particular copy of the Declaration of Independence. The page described the treasure itself2900 pounds of gold, 5100 pounds of silver, and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. The message then went on to say that the exact location of the treasure was found on the first page, so you would have to decode it to find the loot. The first and third pages have never been deciphered, despite people working on it for nearly 175 years.
All of the pages are available online (the first page is pictured above), so you can try your hand at deciphering them yourself. But if you find the Beale treasure, you better give me a cut for pointing you in the right direction.
The film Metropolis, directed by Fritz Lang, is considered a classic of the silent film era. However, upon its initial release in 1927, it was not well-received, even in its native Germany. Some critics said the story was boring, the acting was terrible, and the special effects were a joke. In America, its reception was even worse when 40 minutes of the film were cut to accommodate the 90-minute running time preferred by theater owners. The resulting film was nearly incomprehensible.
Because the movie was not a blockbuster, surviving promotional items from the films release are very rare. Perhaps the most famous of these rarities are the posters, called one-sheets, which hung in theaters while the film was showing and torn down and thrown away soon after. There are only four known original Metropolis one-sheets that survived the films German run in theaters one at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, another in Berlins Film Museum, and two held by private collectors, one of whom bought the poster for the record-setting price of $690,000 in 2005.
But heres the kicker: there are no known surviving posters from the films American release. No one is even sure what the American poster looked like. It could have resembled the German one-sheet, which features Maria, a stylized female robot, and a beautiful Art Deco cityscape above her. But there were also different designs for France and Hungary, so its possible the American version could have been based on those, too. Experts agree on one thing, thoughif someone were to dig up an original American Metropolis one-sheet, it is very likely that it would become the first $1 million movie poster.
Fabergé Eggs have long been seen as beautiful examples of excess wealth. Between 1885 and 1917, 109 unique egg sculptures were fashioned out of solid gold and precious gems for some of the richest families in Europe and Asia. Of that number, 54 were Imperial Eggs created exclusively for the Russian Imperial Family.
During the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, most of the Imperial Eggs were confiscated by the new government and moved to the Kremlin Armory to be cataloged and stored. By the time Joseph Stalin decided to begin selling them in 1927, a handful of eggs had disappeared from the inventory. More went missing as they were sold to private collectors, who usually insisted upon anonymity. In all, eight of the 54 Imperial Eggs are currently considered lost.
Its theorized that, thanks to the anonymous nature of many of the sales, the true pedigree of the lost eggs was forgotten as theyve been passed down as heirlooms. So its very likely that some oblivious person could have received a Fabergé Egg in their Great-Great-Great Aunt Ruths will and not even known it.
Finding one these lost Eggs would make you an instant multi-millionaire. In 2007, a Fabergé Egg, which was also a precision clock once owned by the Rothschilds, sold for £8.9 million, becoming the most expensive timepiece ever sold. In 2002, the Winter Egg sold for a still very respectable $9.6 million. And these two Eggs hadnt been missing for 90 years. The publicity alone for finding one of the lost Imperial Eggs would elevate the final price to an astounding level.
Wow, I’ll have to start rooting around the back yard.
How much for a certain birth certificate?
I used to own a weekend house in Delaware County, NY, about 15 miles from Phoenicia, so I had heard about The Dutchman’s treasure, but that’s the only one of the six that I was familiar with. Thanks for the post...
Metropolis is a cool movie, and I’ve seen the one-sheet reproductions. I dig anything Art-Deco.
One would think that with enough computing power, you could decipher the cipher.
I think if people dig in the newspaper and city photographer archives deep enough, there might be a clue.
Movies back then often had lavish lobby decorations and things in front of the theaters where movies played.
There are many such photos of the decorations for other contemporary films. It wouldn't be the poster (and most films had several posters, even on original release, an A-Sheet, B-Sheet, etc.) but it would at least give a hint of what people are looking for.
Jean Laffite’s treasure is snother lost treasure, possibly off the coast of Texas or Louisiana or...
Not unless you knew the book that it was based on. It said the 2nd page was deciphered using a particular copy of the Declaration of Independence. He most likely used the same type of cypher.
I would try the King James Version for page one...”In the beginning...”
No, not if its a book cipher. A book cipher uses numbers like page number, line number and character number to encode text. For example 4,15,37 could mean 4th page, 15th line and 37th character. With codes like this the book in question becomes the key to solving the cipher, not unlike what cryptanalysts call a "one time pad". Without the book in question, and the specific edition of the book in question at that, you are pretty much out of luck. It says on Wikipedia that one of the three documents was decoded using a specific printed edition of the Declaration of Independence. If one were to take this seriously you'd start by checking it against old out-of-print books that were around when the cipher was written (might be a job for Google Books!) Of course there is the very large probability that this is all an old hoax.
Of course this is bogus. The value of the coin is based on its rareness. If you had 5,000, they ould be that much less rare.
I wonder if statistical analysis could indicate whether these coins ever came back into circulation. (i.e Is this amount significant enough to compare to the years before and after to determine if these are "missing" from the available supply.)
Of these, perhaps the best shot is Dutch Schultz' alleged treasure:In preparation, he placed $7 million dollars inside a safe, drove to upstate New York, and buried it in a hidden location so heâd have a nest egg when he got out of prison. The only other person who knew where the safe was buried was the bodyguard who helped him dig the hole. Shortly after, both men were gunned down by hitmen inside the Palace Chophouse Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey.The transcript of Dutch' last ramblings are available online (I saw them not long ago, didn't know about this). Thanks BGHater!
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Since it seems to have involved six old lifetime bachelors and mostly took place before the SLM, it could just be a fairy tale.
I would like to find the original Amber Room.
I think it may be sitting on the bottom of a lake somewhere.
The hit was ordered by the Mafia Commission, the organization all the families belonged to. Then U.S. Attorney Tom Dewey was closing in on Schulz for tax evasion and Schulz wanted to hit Dewey. Joey Bananas thought Schulz was bananas and if he hit Dewey the heat would be on all of them.
Another interesting fact is he converted from Judaism to Catholicism, some say to get along better with the Italian mobs. He is buried in a Catholic cemetery but his body is draped in a talit, a Jewish prayer shawl.
The legend is his enemies, including Lucky Luciano, looked for the safe the rest of their lives but never found it.
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