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Mon, March 25

Around the Bluhmin’ Town: Hidden treasures tucked away

What’s in your attic? Look carefully, Dear Readers, as a hidden treasure might be tucked away in an unloved shoe box. Before your take all your old “junk” to the thrift store, you might want to check exactly what you have stashed away. Of course, most of us Arizonans don’t have attics, but we have garages, closets and cabinets that might hold an item worth 19 million bucks!

Okay, so it might be a long shot, but imagine the luck of one couple in France, when they came across a rather “ugly” vase stored in a shoe box. The couple said they never liked it much, and either did their grandparents who had acquired it at the end of the 19th century. Before donating it to a second- hand shop, they took the piece to be appraised by an Asian art expert at Sotheby’s.

The exquisite porcelain vessel was made for the Qing Dynasty and is in perfect condition. Representing the images of wildlife in the Imperial hunting grounds of Mulan in northern China, the rare vase was made in the 18th century and is a “flawless” masterpiece. Oh, and someone just paid 19 million for it. Guess it won’t be kept in a shoe box.

I did find quite a few treasures in my mother’s attic last year. She was moving into an assisted living and had never really looked through Dad’s papers when he had passes away. There in a shoe box was a handmade booklet (the paper was old cigarette packages) and written on each of the fifty or so pages that were tied together with string, was the name of a serviceman, his home address and serial number. Dad had gotten this from one of his friends who was in a prison of war camp in World War II.

I found a bunch of memories in my mother’s attic. My father’s WWII uniform, a package of papers, one of which was the passenger list for the ship my mother took as child back to England. It was funny to see her listed as Miss Florence Slingo. I found my grandfather’s bible that he must have carried when he moved from England to the state of Washington. Dated 1910, he wrote on the inside page, “I must keep the faith.”

There are many stories about wildly valuable items that people find in the boxes in their closets or pick up at a garage sale. But mostly, the things we uncover will be only special to us. And that’s okay too. When selling a family home for a client, a forgotten box of family photos and memorabilia was discovered in a closet. There inside was the greatest treasure trove of all, hundreds of letters tied with ribbon that were sent during WWII between two romantic parents. Beautiful and poignant devotions of hopes, dreams and passion were a lasting testimony of their love.

What’s in your attic? A vase worth millions? Probably not. But look carefully in those discarded shoe boxes. What you find might be priceless.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at


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