People who enjoy shopping at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales all have one thing in common: they know the thrill of finding the “perfect” item. It can feel like spotting a diamond in the rough! A man named Emil Knodell who went to an estate sale in Missouri City, Texas, found such an item. It was already a steal, but when he bought it he had no idea that it contained a valuable secret. You could say he hit the jackpot twice with his furniture purchase that fateful day.
Estate Sales Can Be A Goldmine For Those In The Know
An estate sale usually happens after someone passes away. Many times, their family will sell off the belongings that they don’t want to claim for themselves. In some of these cases, the family isn’t aware of how valuable their loved one’s possessions are, and they’re also trying to get rid of things as quickly as possible. This means that you can find some pretty good deals if you have the time to weed through everything.
That’s the precise reason that Emil Knodell, a 67-year-old retired marketing director, ended up at an estate sale in Missouri City, Texas, one day. He was well aware of the possibility of finding bargains.
Knodell Approached The Estate Sale With An Open Mind
This particular sale was run by a company called Premier Estates Sales Network. The firm is run by people who specialize in valuing and pricing items, so the chance that Knodell would score something truly rare or valuable.
But he remained hopeful and optimistic about his prospects. “I always come to a sale with an open mind because you never know,” he said in an interview. His willingness to sort through an entire lot of items was about to pay off, big time.
He Spotted A Dresser That He Liked
After looking through many, many items, Knodell’s attention was grabbed by a dresser. It was nothing flashy, just a wooden chest with thee drawers and a marble top. But it was said to date all the way back to 1890, making it a real antique.
The dresser was initially priced at $300 but had been marked down by the time Knodell made it to the sale. It was less than $100 when he happened across it. Quite a bargain, but the low purchase price was just the start of Knodell’s luck.
Moving The Dresser Took The Strength Of Two Men
Even though this sale was organized by a professional estate sale company, the people involved were not aware of the dresser’s real value. A staff member for Premiere Estate Sales Network, Jeff Allen, was asked by Knodell for help loading the dresser into his truck.
Allen agreed and the two men began moving the large dresser outside and into the waiting vehicle. That’s when they both noticed something unusual about the antique piece of furniture.
Unexplained Noises Intrigued Both Men
Jeff Allen, the estate sale employee, remembered the day well. “He asked for help loading it,” Allen explained in an interview. It’s what happened after the move that was really strange.
“As soon as we laid it down, it started making all this racket on the inside,” said Allen. “Obviously we were very intrigued with what was happening with the dresser.” Who wouldn’t be? After all, furniture doesn’t usually make unexpected noises. What was causing the dresser to make a “racket”?
As any curious person would do, Allen and Knodell decided to investigate the source of the strange noise they had heard coming from the old dresser.
In order to really get a good look at the heavy piece of furniture, they turned it over and laid it down on its back. That was exactly the view they needed, and what they saw revealed after they’d turned the dresser over shocked both of them.
One Secret, Revealed
The dresser appeared ordinary enough other than the fact that it was clearly old. But as with many things, there was more than meets the eye with this mysterious piece of furniture that only cost $100 bucks.
“When you look at the front of it, it looks like it has three obvious drawers with molding on the base,” explained Knodell. “But the bottom has a secret drawer that opens up.” Woah, this is news! What did the secret door contain?
How Did Everyone Miss The Secret Drawer?
By now the dresser had been seen by the family of whoever owned it before the passed away. And it had also been appraised by the professionals of Premiere Estate Sales Network. It’s pretty hard to understand how everyone involved had missed this surprising part of the dresser!
Finding the secret drawer was just the tip of the iceberg. Knodell and Allen were about to open the compartment and learn exactly what was hidden inside.
The Secret Compartment Was Well-Hidden
Whoever designed this dresser wanted their valuables to remain safely hidden. This is clearly evident in how carefully the secret compartment was hidden from view. If Knodell and Allen hadn’t heard strange noises coming from the antique, the extra drawer might have stayed hidden forever.
At this point, Knodell was probably just excited that he got a four-drawer dresser for the price of a three-door! Little did he know but he was about to find out he got a much bigger bargain than he ever could have guessed.
And The Drawer Is Finally Opened…
Knodell later spoke about opening the dresser drawer. “It was a real adrenaline rush,” he said, adding that both he and Allen “were in shock for a second.” That’s pretty easy to understand, as finding something as crazy as a secret door in an otherwise normal, everyday dresser isn’t something that happens too often.
Knodell’s good luck in buying the dresser became really clear as the two men got a glimpse of the fourth drawer’s contents.
Wow, Actual Treasure!
So just what was in this almost-magical dresser drawer? We finally find out: it was full of some serious treasure, in the form of jewels, money, and old personal mementos! Allen and Knodell had found a slice of history in that dresser. Paper currency from around the world, Civil War military medals, dog tags, and even a nicely-preserved lock of hair were hiding in the drawer.
There was even more, though: valuable jewelry like rings and bracelets, and loose gems including emeralds and diamonds. Who would ever have guessed that all this stuff would be in a wooden dresser marked down to $100?
Putting A Date On The Treasure
It was quickly becoming clear that the estimate of 1890 on Knodell’s new purchase was probably pretty accurate. And if that was legitimately the case, there would probably be plenty of collectors who would like to get their hands on the historic treasure inside it.
Collectors who would probably be willing to pay a pretty penny to own the hidden relics. It was time to request a professional’s opinion in order to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Jeff Allen Weighs In On The Find
Luckily for Knodell, his new friend Jeff Allen was one of the professionals working for Premiere Estate Sales Network. He gave the newly-discovered treasure a closer look to determine the worth of both the dresser and all the loot it contained.
Allen’s professional opinion was that the dresser and its contents were worth a combined $15,000! All this for the mere $100 that Knodell had initially spent on it. This means that he got 150 times his money’s worth on his purchase.
A Problem Arises
As with many “too good to be true” stories, this one also ended up having a twist. Here’s the problem: none of the items in the treasure lode were technically included in the sale since no one knew that they were even there.
Knodell bought the dresser fair and square so he was the legal owner of all the things he found inside. Some people might just think “hey, I’m $15,000 richer!” and be done with it. But Jeff wasn’t sure if keeping the items was really the right thing to do.
An Ethical Dilemma
Could Emil Knodell bring himself to have a “finders, keepers” attitude about the things he found in the dresser he’d just snagged for only $100? As we said earlier, some people would not hesitate to sell the treasure and pocket the profit.
But Knodell just didn’t feel too comfortable with that course of action. So he did what he thought was the proper thing to do. We’re about to learn what his thought process was as he made the decision about what to do next.
Knodell Has A Good Sense Of Right And Wrong
In an interview after the fact, Knodell explained how he was feeling after he learned that the dresser and all the valuable things inside were worth a whopping $15,000.
“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.” Knodell’s strong sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ helped him make a decision he was comfortable with.
A Search Begins
It turns out that part of Knodell’s history guided him in his decision. “I’m an old ex-Marine, and I try to do the right thing,” he explained. Jeff Allen had the exact same gut instinct as Knodell: “‘let’s call the owner.’ There was never a question of anyone keeping it. It was ‘this is fantastic. Let’s call the owner and get the stuff back to them.’”
So that’s exactly what the two men set out to do. But that required figuring out who the owners were first…
A Family Member Helps Put Together The Pieces
It turns out that locating the owner of the surprise treasure trove was not as difficult as you might expect. In fact, the son of the deceased (who had owned the dresser) was the executor of the estate. And fortunately, he remembered seeing the dresser in his grandparents home in Michigan in the past.
Of course, the dresser’s valuable contents were a huge shock to him. He had absolutely no idea that any of that stuff even existed.
Peace Of Mind Comes From Doing The Right Thing
Emil Knodell’s gut instincts to do the right thing and return the valuables paid off for him. Not financially, as he legally could have claimed the $15,000 for himself and used it to bolster his retirement savings.
But that move wouldn’t have sat well with the former Marine. He returned every single item to the family of the deceased. Knowing that he had done the “proper” thing was peace of mind to Knodell, worth more than the money would have.
A Grateful Family
It’s always refreshing to hear a story of someone who does the right thing even at personal cost. Emil Knodell could easily have pocketed the large sum of $15,000 if he had wanted to. But his moral convictions led him to track down the family who he felt were the rightful owners.
That family is probably grateful beyond words to have their loved one’s treasure back, even though they didn’t even know it existed. We hope they gave Emil Knodell a sincere thank you for his honesty! And we certainly hope he continues to find great bargains at estate sales.