Family’s fortune after finding item worth £5k wrapped in old socks
A fortunate family has found a hoard of treasures while clearing out their late mother’s house.
Siblings Sue Bird, 66, and Jonathan Hood, 56, admit that their mum – Margaret ‘Peggy’ Hood was a hoarder. She had kept many items over the year including a staggering 316 plastic bags containing greetings cards. However, one thing they did not expect to find was a sapphire ring valued at between £5,000 and £7,000.
The dazzling item was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag inside of a sock, reports BirminghamLive. It had been dangling in the porch of Peggy’s home in Derbyshire. The ring – alongside other precious items – will go under the hammer with Richard Winterton Auctioneers at The Lichfield Auction Centre as Lot 6 on Monday, March 27.
Peggy’s daughter Sue said: “We didn’t know mum had got all this jewellery – she never told us and it was only by chance we found it all. We knew she had inherited some jewellery some decades previously from an old family friend but we had no idea as to the extent.
“She never showed me or my brother and we were gobsmacked when we started to discover all these boxes. When we became aware of the extent of things we started going through everything with a fine tooth comb.
“The sapphire ring was in an orange Sainsbury’s bag wrapped up in a big green rambling sock inside another bag and then wrapped in five pop socks. It was hanging on the wall by the door and we’d all been coming and going, completely oblivious that this stunning ring was literally hidden in plain sight.
“It was after discovering the ring we had to say ‘right, do not throw anything away’.” Peggy, who died in October 2022 just after her 90th birthday, had suffered from dementia.
Sue said that the great-grandmother of two was known to hide things around her home. “Mum was a lovely lady but I must admit she was the biggest hoarder – she didn’t throw anything away and as the dementia set in she started hiding things around the house,” she said. “She used to save everything, even every plastic bag – after she died we found 316 plastic bags containing greetings cards. We knew she had a safe having had a single glimpse inside many years ago but of course, we didn’t know where the key was.
“We searched and searched and eventually found it concealed in the CD rack behind 300 CDs. When we finally opened the safe we found lots more treasures including the sapphire earrings as well as the empty box for the sapphire ring.”
Intrigued, Sue started doing her own research into the complicated field of jewellery. “I wish I had been a gemmologist,” she added. “But it was more that the jewellery kept me going emotionally. It was something to focus on during the grief. Our dad John Hood died three-and-a-half years ago – he had Alzheimer’s – and mum kept everything after he passed away.
“So when we were going through the house after she died, all his things were there too so that resulted in us experiencing grief for him all over again as well.”
With the haul of jewellery building up, Sue and Jonathan decided it was time to consult expert help and Sue went to see Richard Winterton Auctioneers, initially at a pop-up valuation at Burton Market Hall and then at the family firm’s headquarters at The Lichfield Auction Centre in Fradley Park.
Sue continued: “There was one set of beads which we nearly threw away but the jewellery team told me they were butterscotch amber and they sold at £420. We just kept finding these little treasures and I was up and down the A38. They were brilliant and we are so pleased. One of my friends has dubbed it ‘The Littleover Hoard’.”
Other finds from the safe included an Alabaster and Wilson sapphire and diamond brooch – sold at auction with Richard Winterton for £1,200 – and a gold and enamel sweetheart ring reading ‘Hope’ which made £900.
“We’ve now sold more than 30 lots with Richard Winterton Auctioneers and looking back we think the only thing we can remember mum wearing was the ring, perhaps once a year,” added Sue. “To think all of these treasures have been hidden away for years and we had absolutely no idea. We could easily have thrown some of them away and never been any the wiser. It’s an amazing story, really.”
The catalogue will be online a week before the sale via www.richardwinterton.co.uk.
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