Pieces of Eight!

When auctioneers sold off an old storage locker for $1,000, little did they know it contained a rare haul of 200-year-old pirate treasure valued at $500,000!

American Auctioneers’ co-owners Dan and Laura Dotson present the television reality show, Storage Wars. They described the box of coins (known as doubloons or pieces of eight) as the “find of a lifetime”. On the show, they auction off foreclosed lockers with no idea what is inside, so the buyer is taking a gamble when they place a bid.

Storage Wars

The winning bidder, known only as “John” and hailing from San Jose, had stumbled upon the bargain of a lifetime when he later discovered the Spanish gold coins hidden inside the locker. They were said to date from between the 16th and 19th centuries and were valued at a cool half a million dollars by an appraisals expert.

The locker had been auctioned off at Contra Costa, in California. Despite it being so heavy that it needed three people to lift it, no-one had any idea what it contained.

The buyer asked to remain anonymous, so the footage of his amazing find was never broadcast on Storage Wars, which is one of American channel A&E’s most watched shows, attracting 4.7 million viewers each week.

However, show host Dan Dotson later admitted how shocked he was when he learned the true value of the foreclosed locker. He said, “We had no idea!” and went on to describe the buyer’s excitement at the “great find of a lifetime”.

Show co-host Laura Dotson spoke of her delight at the find, adding it “solidified” the business and renewed people’s hopes that there was “still treasure to be found” in the locker units. She said the coins’ new owner had called after getting his treasure valued and told her, “This is a wonderful life!”

Local newspapers reported the unit had been owned by an elderly woman, who had recently died. There had been no indication that it contained such a high-value collection of gold and silver.

Storage auction experts say the units are listed in the newspaper prior to an auction and some bidders look at the unit owners’ names to try and estimate whether they will contain anything of value.

Some regular bidders believe that lockers owned by elderly people tend to have more valuable contents, because they are likely to be older collectibles. According to the experts, lockers owned by elderly women with names such as “Ethel” or “Myrtle” tend to attract more interest, both being more popular for babies born in the early 20th century.

However, the container of valuable coins attracted the buyer’s interest for a totally different reason – it was a relatively modern, cheap container and he said he liked it because it was plastic, clean and easy to move!

American Auctioneers are located in California, where the law states that a storage unit can be auctioned off if the rent hasn’t been paid for three months. The bidders are permitted to view the storage unit from outside for five minutes to try and find out what they can about its contents, before bidding begins.

Some units that may look interesting turn out to be worth very little once the winning bidder takes a proper look, but some contain hidden valuables that are worth a lot of money when they are sold on, so taking a gamble can be worth it. However, buying a locker for $1,000 and finding it’s worth $500,000 is something that never usually happens.

Crown Sports Lockers has more than 25 years’ experience in the design, manufacture and installation of premium quality lockers and changing room equipment.  Although it’s unlikely you’ll be leaving a haul of gold coins in your locker, our bespoke storage solutions can keep everything safe and secured! Please contact us for further details of our products and services.