Emil Knodell collects antiques for a hobby, and when he saw this handcrafted walnut dresser—solid marble top, beautiful woodwork— marked down at an estate sale, he knew he was getting a steal.
He paid $100 for the dresser, and asked for some help to load the piece of furniture into his vehicle. When they picked it up, they heard all kind of clattering inside—metals, and a lot of rattling—which was strange, as it was supposed to be empty.
Intrigued, Knodell and the estate sale employee laid it down and started opening it up.
It was then that they discovered the bottom drawer contained a hidden compartment.
Gold, diamonds, pearls and other jewels, a lock of hair, military dog tags, and Civil War memorabilia. It turned out the dresser dated back to 1890.
“It was a real adrenaline rush. Both of us were in shock for a second,” the employee said.
Knodell was floored, but didn’t think for a second that he would be keeping the hidden treasure.
“I bought the chest drawers. I didn’t buy those things. 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,” Knodell said. “I’m an old ex-Marine and I try to do the right thing.”
The employee who helped Knodell felt similarly, and suggested they contact the dresser’s owner.
The two of them contacted the estate executor, the son of the man who had died, who remembered seeing the dresser in his grandparents’ house as a child.
“And he had no idea there was a hidden compartment,” the employee said.