For $100, Emil Knodell, 67, though he got a pretty good deal on the dresser. But as he began loading it into the truck, he heard it clinking and clacking and he cursed himself for buying the piece of junk. It was already broken. But then the sound reminded him of something that made him smile: a slot machine. Had he just won the lottery? Knodell laughed and forgot about the sound as he trucked the dresser back home. But soon after taking the antique dresser into his workshop, he discovered that a treasure trove was making that metallic sound. And his jaw hit the floor.
Knodell will never forget the day in May 2015 when he found the “jackpot” inside the beaten up old dresser. He told NBC News:
“It sounded like a metallic waterfall. It was like the Hardy Boys. Jackpot!”
For $100, he certainty did get a steal. Not because the dresser was worth much more than that but because he found hidden treasure inside of it.
Knodell isn’t too experienced with antiques because he is a retired marketing director now living in Bellville, Texas. But on the weekend, he went to a Premier Estate Sales Network event in Missouri City to have some fun shopping for old pieces of furniture.
“I always come to a sale with an open mind because you never know,” Knodell told Click 2 Houston. “It’s always good to come at the half-price time because then the big fun starts.”
Because the estate sale hoped to sell off as many items as cheaply as possible, they didn’t do a full audit of what they were selling. That’s how the treasure got through the cracks and into the hands of someone not in the family.
Knodell started bidding on the 1890s dresser that had three drawers and a marble top. It was pretty and he thought it could help spruce up his dining room. And the price was dropping. On the first day, it was selling for $300, but that dropped to $225 and by the time Knodell was done bargaining with the seller, he got it for less than a hundred bucks. What a steal!
Not only did he get it for a great price, he also had Jeff Allen of the estate sale company helping him load it into Knodell’s truck.
“He asked for help loading it,” Allen told ABC News. “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.”
That’s when Knodell found the treasure.
“When you look at the front of it, it looks like it has three obvious drawers with molding on the base,” Knodell told ABC News. “But the bottom has a secret drawer that opens up.”
When Knodell pulled out the secret drawer he found the real treasure.
“It was a real adrenaline rush,” Allen told ABC news. “Both of us were in shock for a second.”
He found diamonds, emeralds, antique coins, Civil War memorabilia and more.
But Knodell didn’t have the heart to keep the treasure. He returned it to the family.
“I bought the chest [of] drawers. I didn’t buy those things,” he told ABC News. “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.”