Finding Real Life Hidden Treasure


Who doesn’t like a good treasure hunt? Many favorite movies and books, including Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, and Romancing the Stone, are about finding lost treasure in unexpected places. Here at Grand Rapids Coins we also hear stories about hidden treasure – but these stories are real. Let’s talk about a few of our customers’ more interesting finds. 

Hidden Treasure in Expected Places

There are many news stories about coins hoards that people, often with a metal detector, find buried in an English field or in the basement of an old theater. Some coin finds help historians to date or place certain events, the details of which were previously unknown. While there have been some incredible finds of coins buried underground, nature isn’t really the best place for stashing something if you want it to remain in good condition. Water is quite corrosive to metal, especially over time. 

Often our customers bring us coins that they found in their houses. Here are some places where they have discovered coins secreted away:

  • Heating duct work
  • A furnace housing behind the air filter
  • In the roof
  • Basement rafters
  • Within walls 

Believe it or not, it was quite common for people to store hidden treasures in their homes fairly recently. The Great Depression may seem like it was a lifetime ago, but our parents and grandparents lived through times when the federal government forced citizens to turn in their gold and banks failed and closed on a large scale. There was no such thing as deposit insurance or what we refer to now as FDIC. If a bank failed, everyone who had money in the bank lost it. They never got it back. 

As a result of these often catastrophic losses, many people of that generation learned never to trust banks again. They didn’t deposit their money. They didn’t keep a safety deposit box for coins and gold. Instead they found other “safe” places to squirrel it away. It couldn’t be in plain sight, or someone might steal it. So they hid it in the roof line, in the rafters, or behind a stone in the basement foundation. 

Some of those people remained in their homes until they died and they forgot about the money they had hidden. Or they may have never told their family members about their treasure and died before they could reveal it. As a result, it’s not uncommon for people who live in older houses to discover things when they take down a wall to renovate or expand a room. 

One of our customers brought in a collection of coins that roofers found when roofers repaired his roof after a tree had fallen on it. The newest coin in this collection had a 1967 date on it. 

If you want to hunt for coins in your house, it helps to think like someone who distrusts banks then. Does your house have a section of wall that seems to have been patched? That could be a hiding spot. Are there loose floorboards or steps? Have you shone a flashlight on your basement or attic rafters? If your house is old enough, it could contain hidden treasure beyond whatever loose change is in your couch.

If you’ve ever considered hiding coins rather than storing them in a safe or a safety deposit box, there are some inherent risks. First, there’s the risk that they could be found and stolen. You could also, like many people, forget about them if you move away. 

Burying coins is also not the best choice for maintaining the condition of your coins. Surprisingly, many people still do bury coins, and they can be found on the acreage of older properties. We have had customers bring in boxes of muddy silver eagles. Silver will not deteriorate, but it will develop an ugly tone when the ground water table rises and soaks the coins. This will impair the value, and we do not recommend burying as a good way to store or secrete your coin collection.

If you’ve found hidden treasure in your home and would like to know its value or sell coins or currency, we would be happy to evaluate your collection for you. Please schedule an appointment to meet with us, and we will let you know what we can about the value of your coins. 

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