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The Not-so-Secret Coin Collection

Have you ever wondered if there’s treasure in your midst? A pile of precious metal you walk right past everyday? If TV shows like Storage Wars and Pawn Stars are any indication – it’s quite possible.

Having a collection of sorts seems to increase your odds. One such treasure discovery occurred at the state library in Passau, Bavaria. The library, nearly 400 years old and housing one of the oldest book collections in all of Germany, is home to a lot of historical pieces. However, an incredible treasure was “hidden” right in plain site.

The fourth floor of the library is home to the archive, which contains many knick-knacks preserved by the library in addition to several books. Whether it was librarians retrieving books for patrons or custodians dusting the shelves and displays, nobody paid any attention to an unmarked wooden box that was stored in the archive. That is, until janitor Tanja Höls finally got curious enough to look inside.

The box contained 172 silver coins and medallions. When Höls told the head of the library, the find was investigated. The coins date back to 1803 and are worth at least six figures. The box had sat in the library undisturbed for nearly 200 years.

But how did they get there? The library suspects that the coins belonged to the prince-bishops of Passau. During their time, Germany was undergoing secularization, which entailed the state absorbing the assets of the church. To prevent the government from getting these valuable silver coins, they were discreetly stashed in the library.

The take away lesson here is to meticulously document your collection. Otherwise you’ll never know if you’re sitting on treasure.

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