Old German bonds found in Canadian's safe

May 1, 2012 at 9:45 PM
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HAMILTON, Ontario, May 1 (UPI) -- A Canadian man busted open an old safe he found in his back yard and found stacks of old German bonds -- but, alas, he learned he hadn't hit the jackpot.

"I thought I found something great," 32-year-old auto technician Gianni Smerilli told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "I thought this was the big one."

Smerilli had found the half-buried safe, about the size of a washing machine, on property he bought near Hamilton last year. It was too heavy to move so he eventually took a sledge hammer to it and discovered thousands of 1920s-era bonds inside -- including one with a 50,000-mark denomination.

The CBC said Tuesday it had the bonds examined by Michael Barber of Arcade Stamp and Coin Co., who was unable to proclaim the find to be a life-changing buried treasure.

"These are very, very common," Barber said. "We see them quite frequently."

The bonds were issued at a time when the German government was in dire need of cash to pay off reparation bills after World War I. Hyperinflation reduced their value to nil.

They may actually have regained some value, perhaps a few dollars apiece, Barber said, but only a nostalgia item.

"They're interesting in the fact that the coupons were never clipped," Barber said. "So whoever put them away knew that they weren't going to be of any value. I would be interested in buying them, but not for much money."

Smerilli said he'll hang on to them for now -- until the right offer comes along.

"Who knows, maybe the right guy will come around with a briefcase, and we can go from there," he said laughing.

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