Usually, the more expensive an item is the more money people will invest to protect, store or transport it. Every now and then though, people throw caution to the wind and say, “Hey, why can’t I just send this big-ass diamond through the mail?” Far from being an exaggeration, people have actually done just that, like in the case of…
10. The Guy Who Mailed Sapphires
Sapphires are one of the most valuable precious gems, with a decent sized one costing more than a new car. Like almost all precious gems, sapphires usually need to be mined and ripped from earth and rock by force, which is part of the reason they cost so much.
However, in very rare cases it’s possible to find sapphires above ground in rivers and whatnot, which is exactly what happened in 1895 to a gold prospector in Montana called Jake Hoover. Hoover had no idea about the value of the “blue pebbles” he’d found while sluicing and like many of the other gold prospectors, he’d been tempted to simply throw the pebbles away. Luckily, Hoover saw sense and decided to hold onto the curious pebbles until he’d collected a cigar box full of them, at which point he decided that he should probably get them appraised by an expert.
Rather than personally accompanying the stones to an expert, Hoover was content sending the box to Tiffany and Co via mail, at which point he learned that the stones other prospectors had been throwing away were sapphires worth hundreds of dollars a piece. Hoover ended up making far more money from sapphires than he ever did from gold, and he would have never figured it out unless he’d sent thousands of dollars worth of precious gems through the postal service. Speaking of…
9. The Guy Who Mailed the Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond is one of the single most valuable objects on the planet, with an estimated worth in the hundreds of millions. If supervillains were real, this is the thing they’d be trying to steal on a weekly basis.
Today the diamond is safely housed in the Smithsonian, where it’s presumably safe from any Mission Impossible-esque attempts to steal it. Even if that happened though, it wouldn’t be half as interesting as the story of how the diamond made it to the Smithsonian in the first place.
A man called Harry Winston bought the diamond as part of a collection in 1949. After he’d spent a few years touring with the diamond to show off how awesome it was, someone managed to convince Winston that it’d be a good idea to donate it, for free, to the Smithsonian. Rather than laughing in their face, Winston was swayed by this plea, and in 1958 he put the 45 carat diamond in a plain brown box and mailed it to the museum. This cost him the princely sum of 2 dollars and 44 cents.
But Winston was no fool — he decided to insure the diamond for the duration of its journey and paid an addition 142 dollars to protect it against theft. The diamond was worth millions and was largely considered irreplaceable, so how the post office was able to insure it for just shy of 150 bucks is beyond us. But hey, we still need to talk about…
8. The Guy Who Mailed an Even Bigger Diamond
Originally mined in 1905, the Cullinan Diamond is one of the largest diamonds ever found in human history. For comparison’s sake, the Hope Diamond clocks in at 45 carats while the Cullinan Diamond, prior to it being cut into smaller, more manageable diamonds, weighed over 3000 carats and had an estimated value of over two billion dollars.
The diamond was discovered in a South African mine by Sir Thomas Cullinan. As you can imagine, the question of how the the authorities were going to safely transport it back to England became a pressing issue. It was eventually decided that the diamond would simply be mailed back to England in an (insured) plain brown box, because apparently multimillion dollar diamond insurance is something the postal service deals with all the time. However, to deter any potential thieves, a huge ceremony was arranged in which a fake package that didn’t contain the real diamond was stored on an armored steam boat bound for England.
Just let that thought settle in your head for a moment. There have been at least two times in recorded history where people have mailed million dollar diamonds, and we currently live in an age where you can’t mail a birthday card without worrying that someone will cut it open to steal the five dollars inside.
7. The Priceless Parmesan Cheese Buried in a Garden
Compared to a diamond worth over a billion dollars Parmesan cheese may seem like an odd item, but a wheel of this famous Italian hard cheese will set you back thousands of dollars. Part of the reason it’s so expensive is because the cheese is required by law to have matured for at least a year. So if a wheel costs several thousand dollars today, imagine how much it would have cost in the 17th century when we didn’t have an expansive network of delivery infrastructure to have it imported.
According to historians, Parmesan cheese was so ridiculously expensive and rare back then that it wasn’t uncommon for it to considered a gift worthy of royalty, and simply having a small amount in your home was a huge status symbol. So imagine how diarist Samuel Pepys felt when the Great Fire of London began creeping up on his house when he had a huge block of Parmesan just sitting in his larder.
Faced with the prospect of losing everything he owned (and his cheese) to the fire, Pepys quickly set about having the bulk of his belongings taken from his home by his servants — except for his cheese. Unable to trust another person with what was the equivalent of the keys to a Ferrari, Pepys was forced to bury the cheese in his back garden to ensure that it wouldn’t be taken by either the flames or an unscrupulous looter.
6. Expensive Wine Stored Under a Tarp
A bottle of wine is a lot like a child, by which we mean it’s only really acceptable to keep in locked in a cellar for years if you’re really rich. A general rule of thumb is that the more expensive a bottle of wine is, the more care you have to take while storing it. Everything from the temperature to the angle you store the bottle at is taken into account, and it can all alter the taste of the wine in a multitude of ways. The biggest cause of problems? Light.
Luckily, there’s one generally accepted way to store an expensive bottle of wine while protecting it from light — put it in a cardboard box. We don’t mean a specially made box crafted by monks, we mean that as long as you consider the other factors that affect taste there’s nothing wrong with even hundred dollar bottles of wine being shoved in dusty old shoeboxes. Hell, some sources suggest that even throwing an old tarp over a bunch of bottles is fine.
So for all of the wine lovers reading this without access to a wine cellar, go buy a bunch of really good wine, wrap it in an old coat and shove it in the back of your fridge. Problem solved.
5. The Mona Lisa Was Safe in Someone’s Bedroom
The Mona Lisa is arguably the most iconic painting in human history. Even if you’ve never seen it in person, we bet 99% of the people reading this could describe it right down to the fact that she doesn’t appear to have any eyebrows.
During World War 2, the Louvre was forced to take drastic measures when it came to safeguarding the priceless exhibits they housed. Fearing the Nazis would loot their stock, they sent the majority of their exhibits to various châteaux across France for safe keeping.
While a lot of the art remained in the humble boxes and wrappings they were delivered in until after the war, sympathetic art lovers couldn’t bear the thought of allowing the freakin’ Mona Lisa to be covered up in such an undignified way. So rather than trying to hide it, some simply hung the painting on their bedroom wall until it had to be moved again, safe in the knowledge that no one would ever actually believe the painting was the real deal.
4. Solid Gold is Safe in the Backyard
Few things are as timelessly valuable as gold. From the ancient Kings of Egypt to survivalists prepping for a thermonuclear strike, gold is the one true currency. It’s the latter of those two that we’re here to talk about today.
If you’ve switched on a TV at all in the last few years you may be aware that there’s a small but dedicated group of people in the United States who are absolutely certain that the economy is set to collapse any day now. Though to the rest of us those people seem, shall we say… misguided, to the gold industry they’re a metaphorical goldmine.
What sets them apart from all the regular folk buying gold as an investment is the fact that they’re invariably anti-government and don’t trust banks either. Which means their options for storing their gold are limited to either hiding it in their house, or burying it their backyard.
There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of homes across the US hiding literal buried gold, so if you have a shovel and a neighbor who always rants about the government on Facebook that may be something to keep in mind.
3. Bitcoins Can be Stored Anywhere You Don’t Have Wi-fi
Bitcoins are a digital crypto-currency that you can use in lieu of real money if you don’t like banks or want to buy drugs anonymously on the Internet. Like any currency, the value of bitcoins is variable and a large amount of money can be made with them if you’re savvy and/or lucky enough.
Because bitcoins are entirely digital, they’re highly susceptible to being stolen. And because all bitcoin transactions are permanent and irreversible, if they are stolen, you’re probably never getting them back. It’s for this reason that people will often store their bitcoins under layers upon layers of digital security, but even then it’s not unheard of for people to have them stolen. The only real way to ensure that no one can steal your bitcoins is to remove your hard drive and shove it in your sock drawer or something. You could theoretically store millions of dollars worth of these things on a memory card in your vegetable crisper.
However, just because bitcoins are safe from theft, it doesn’t mean they’re safe from you. When the price of bitcoins reached an all time high of 1000 dollars in late 2013, Englishman James Howells realized that the 7500 coins he’d mined several years ago were on a hard drive he’d since thrown away. He’d tossed out about seven million dollars and had literally no way of ever getting it back. So don’t laugh at our fridge suggestion.
2. Fancy Cars Left in Driveways
For most people, cars are a tool that gets us from A to B. But once you’ve spent a certain amount of money on a car it goes beyond that and becomes a part of who you are. Now, you’d think that people who own fancy cars would go out of their way to store them in secure garages, but if they’re trying to sell a house that’s apparently the opposite of what they should be doing.
According to experts, simply having a fancy car outside of a house adds thousands of dollars to its worth, even if it’s parked in a less than desirable area. The theory is that once people see a nice car parked proudly outside a home, they automatically assume the area they’re in is nice. Because surely it has to be if you’re willing to park your snazzy car outside, right?
It’s for this reason that there’s a curious trend of people selling their homes going out and renting exotic cars just to park them outside. Even though a really nice car is more likely to be stolen there, it can add thousands of dollars to the value of your property.
1. Winning Lottery Tickets are Best Stored on Your Person
We’re guessing that almost everyone reading this has fantasized about what they’d do if they won the lottery. With that in mind, we’d like to ask you all another question. If you did win the lottery, where would you hide the winning ticket?
Surprisingly, in a quiz of past lottery winners, one of the most common answers from women was “in my bra.” Even with millions of dollars at stake, the most secure hiding place most women could think of was the same place they store their phones when they’re on the toilet. Men, on the other hand, admitted to storing the ticket in either their wallet or socks.
However, our hats have to be tipped to the genius who decided to hide his winning lottery ticket in his garbage on the day it was due to be collected. Amazingly, this didn’t backfire. So let that be a lesson to you — if you ever have anything valuable, hide it in the garbage.