A tiny 400-year-old iron casket which was thrown out in a box of rubbish has been sold at auction for nearly £10,000.
House clearer Adrian Rathbone, 35, spotted the 8cm wide ornament in a box of discarded scrap metal while he worked in a semi-detached house in Litchfield, Staffs., last September.
The tiny ornament dates back to the 16th century and is made with a rare form of Spanish ‘Toledo’ metalwork.
Incredibly, a private buyer from London paid £9,500 for the casket at Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, Staffs., last week.
Adrian said: ”What a find. Whoever had it didn’t realise how much it was worth. They’d just tossed it in a box of old metal waiting to be chucked out.
”It was just lying there at the bottom of the box gleaming among a load of old rubbish like bits of old copper and brass.
”It’s not every day you find something as rare as a 16th century casket but when you do it’s well worth it. Thank goodness I rescued it.
”Now I’m on the hunt for another one.”
A hidden lock is used to release the lid of the gilt covered casket. It would have been used by wealthy women as a safe place to store valuables such as jewellery.
Proceeds from the sale will go to the family of the former home-owner where the casket was found.
Auctioneer Richard Winterton added: ”This proves that there are hundreds of pounds worth of antiques gathering dust in people’s homes.”