The day I found $10,000.00 in a Bic Pen Box at an Estate Sale

Or Strange Places People Hide Money…

I just read an interesting story about a woman who found $10,000.00 in a box of crackers at a Whole Foods store, and while I have heard of Whole Foods being called “Whole Paycheck” I never thought I would hear of someone receiving such a handsome one from them…Here is the story.

About 10 years ago while setting up a house for an estate sale in Santa Rosa I found a Bic pen box that look something like this…

This was the house of an elderly couple who had been in the Jewelry Business. There were many wonderful antiques and all sorts of collectibles there, including many vintage firearms.

In one of the closets there was a large safe. I like finding safes, even when I don’t have the combination to the safe – a safe represents a mystery, a great unknown.

I like to find out about the unknown at estate sales.

So I hired a safe cracker, by the way you cannot find a safe cracker listed as a safe cracker in the Yellow Pages, you have to look for a locksmith who can crack safes. Guess what we found in the safe…drum roll please…That’s right we found nothing in the safe….

Now people who are in the jewelry business as is well known, also deal in diamonds. So in the closet of the master bedroom we found a lot of paper diamond bindels on the floor. Here is a picture of a box of them.

Look for little white envelopes when you’re setting up for an Estate Sale

Essentially how a jeweler uses these small squares of paper is to make a small envelop from them into which they put as many or as few diamonds as they may wish. In this manner they can manage their diamonds according to the 4 C’s of Diamonds. In other words, they can separate them by their “Cut” “Carat” “Clarity” and “Color.”

As I have already written, I like surprises, and a good mystery – the motto for my Estate Sales Company is “Help People Find.” So I unfolded and looked into about 100 of these little diamond packets…Guess what I found in the envelopes…drum roll please…That’s right we found nothing in the envelopes.

Dang and Double Dang…

Here is what I found loaded under the bed of this estate…

Well, at least it was a surprise, by the way, if you find that you have inherited firearms, and you feel that they may be collectible, you can go to my Inherited Firearms site, and fill in one of my forms, and I will forward your information on to someone who can help you properly research their values.

Eureka I Found It!

It was while we were going through the drawers in the master bedroom that my then partner Julie, found “The Bic Pen Box”…drum roll please, and guess what was inside it, that’s right – $10,000.00. And may I report – the family was very pleased…

So here is my little estate sales warning:

Don’t throw anything away…be careful, you never know – look through everything…

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Martin Codina

Where to Purchase Our Book "Liquidating an Estate"

13 thoughts on “The day I found $10,000.00 in a Bic Pen Box at an Estate Sale

  1. Back in the 80s, when my grandfather moved out of his home, my dad and uncle found almost $38,000 in coffee cans and pasta boxes in the basement. Grandpa had told them there was some money down there, but couldn’t remember where or how much.

    So, I second your advice to not throw things away until you look inside EVERYTHING.

  2. Thanks Sue – There are so many stories like this…It’s Heart Breaking to think of the assets that are carelessly tossed, each and every day…

  3. Just last month a couple of brothers donated a bunch of their moms items to Goodwill. One of the employees found I believe $7500 in a box of “junk”.

  4. Peggy – Thanks, and for us in the Biz, it’s not junk until first we’ve sorted through, and have tried to sell it…and if after that, it remains, then it’s”junk”

  5. My husbands grandmother would put small pieces of jewelry in her boxes of face/body powder, and money was tucked into the folds of quilts in the quilt box. So there is no place that should be left to chance.

  6. Hi,

    You wrote:
    “So I hired a safe cracker, by the way you cannot find a safe cracker listed as a safe cracker in the Yellow Pages, you have to look for a locksmith who can crack safes.”

    Unfortunately, there is no such category, on the web or even in your local yellow pages. Better to look under Safes & Vaults Opening & Repairing in your local yellow page directory, or better still, do a GOOGLE search for SAFECRACKER (as one word) or SAFE AND VAULT TECHNICIAN using your city and state or just your area code. You’ll come up with lots of local results.

    Locksmiths and safe and vault technicians, although technically in the same trade, are not necessarily the same thing. Many locksmiths don’t do safe work and few, if any, safecrackers do general locksmithing.

    Another way of insuring that you find a qualified safecracker is to search the database of the Safe and Vault Technicians Association at: http://WWW.SAVTA.ORG


    Ken Doyle
    Advanced Safe & Vault ?Engineering
    Novato, CA

  7. i have only been going to auctions for a couple years now, and yet to discover my own Bic Pen Box…but I know I will at some point! I have found scores that i had to work for though…’junk’ no one wanted, but i ended up selling for enough to put a smile on my face and food on the table.

    My mother did find a couple hundred dollars in a box in a box in a box sort of thing. We purchased a nice TV for the family room. I was young then, so I considered that a major score!

    Leah, auction goer

  8. Ken: You are like “Way Cool,” and your site is – Over The Top Informative…any time you want to write a guest article, just let me know…

    Leah: Patience, they will come…The Treasures I mean…Thanks for stopping by…

  9. Great story! When someone calls for an estate consultation I always tell them “don’t throw away ANYTHING, excet the dirty kleenex.” Unfortunately all too often they ‘clean out’ before calling someone in.

  10. Hello,

    I’m having an education here. It’s worth taking the time to read some of the articles, and the experiences that are shared in these writings. I can’t relate to the story on “finding $10,000.00” but it’s interesting reading. My story is much different. Given the opportunity, I would like to share it some day.

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