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Florida family finds 'pirate treasure' in attic

Mike and Maria Lopez said the box contains coins, a map, a mummified hand and a picture of their great-grandparents.

By
Ben Hooper

TAMPA, Fla., April 30 (UPI) -- A pair of Florida siblings said they made a bizarre discovery in their grandparents' attic -- a box containing coins, a treasure map and a mummified hand.

Mike and Maria Lopez said the box found in their grandparents' Tampa attic contains some old-looking coins, a map of the Hillsborough River and a skeletal hand bearing a ring inscribed, "Gaspar."

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Mike Lopez said the couple in photo are likely his great-grandparents, Eve and Ernesto Lopez. He said his grandfather used to tell him and Maria stories about Ernesto Lopez finding treasure belonging to legendary pirate Jose Gaspar, who was rumored to have raided the west coast of Florida in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

"Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River. There's really no way to know which is the case," Maria Lopez told WTSP-TV.

The siblings showed their find to Rodney Kite-Powell, curator of the Tampa Bay History Center. He said the coins are likely not authentic old Spanish coins.

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"They're a little thin to be Spanish Coins or old coins in general. Generally older coins were thicker," Kite-Powell told WFLA-TV.

Kite-Powell said the map likely dates from the 1920s or 1930s.

"It's fascinating, but I just don't know what to make of it aside from the fact that it's probably not Jose Gaspar's hand, these probably aren't Spanish coins," Kite-Powell said.

Kite-Powell told the Tampa Bay Times he would be interested in having the skeletal hand tested "to make sure it was not a real human hand.''

He said the object could also be a mummified monkey hand.

The Lopezes said they plan to hold on to the box and its contents for the time being.

"We are not sure what we're going to do with it," Lopez said. "Possibly keep it forever. It's part of our family now."

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