By judith

May 14, 2005

Those of us who scour the countryside every weekend looking for that great find, know that many amazing discoveries are still out there. I once attended a church lawn sale and found a brooch that consisted of a fish with a jewel in its mouth. The price was $2.50 and I grabbed it. When I researched the brooch, which was sterling silver, I found it had a retail value of more than $1,000.

That's what keeps us all rising before dawn every Saturday morning to get to as many sales as possible, plotting our strategies so we don't miss that big score. We are, my dear readers, The Accumulators.

Emil Knodell of Bellville, Texas is one accomplished Accumulator. One Saturday morning he went to a sale of the estate of an elderly man in Missouri City, Texas. There he bought a circa 1890 marble-topped chest of drawers for $100. 

Estate1Photo courtesy of Emil Knodell

When he loaded the chest into his truck, he hear a strange metallic rattling sound. When the chest was laid on its back, the piece of molding under the bottom drawer revealed itself to be the front of a secret drawer. Inside that secret drawer was treasure!

The drawer contained currency, emerald and diamond jewelry, a lock of hair, military dog tags and Civil War memorabilia.

Estate2 Photo courtesy of Premier Estate Sales

But our friend Emil is not just an Accumulator. He is also a really good guy.

"I bought the chest of drawers. I didn’t buy those things", he said. "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. I’m an old ex-Marine and I try to do the right thing."

He contacted the sale manager, who contacted the estate's executor, who is also the son of the deceased man. The son remembered the chest of drawers from his childhood home in Michigan, but said he never knew there was a secret drawer.

So, the secret drawer's contents went back to the son, and the chest went to Emil Knoppel's dining room.

You never know what you'll find, Accumulators. So, keep going to those garage sales, estate sales, flea markets and front lawns. Wonderful treasures await you!

Judith Katz-Schwartz