The Washington 2008 unclaimed property auction

After five years, the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes are turned over to the state, which attempts to contact the owners, but if the owners cannot be located after three years, they are put up for auction. Things like this antique watch with a Swedish dedication: "Till min kära syster Nanny fr. Elin — Mors klocka" = "To my dear sister Nanny, from Elin — Mom's watch". It's sad that something with such obvious sentimental value is being sold off.

Or, if you are more of the nerdy type, you could bid on Star Trek comic books graphic novels or a Michael Jordan rookie trading card.

Comments (8)
  1. Bill says:

    Just did a search on the Washington unclaimed properties site for "Microsoft" and it came up with 6 unclaimed items.

    Also checked my own states page (PA) and found some money owed for three family members

  2. John says:

    I think it would be more interesting if they auctioned off the contents of the boxes prior to opening them.  Everyone likes a surprise!

  3. John says:

    I like the URL of my state’s unclaimed property website:

  4. Tom says:

    The auction includes "Paper currency including Federal Reserve Notes & Silver Certificates."

    I’m surprised it’s worth it to auction paper money, especially if it was kept as currency rather than as a collector’s item.  (I mean, this is a safe-deposit box, after all.)  Do you really get more than face value for it in the end?

    Yeah, there’s a collector’s premium for paper money, but it isn’t that much (silver certificates aren’t redeemable in silver anymore).  You’ve got that 10% buyer’s premium, then the seller’s premium, then the amount the buyer shades his bid (could be substantial for dealers, who have to sell it onwards).

  5. nathan_works says:

    John, if you like surprises, plenty of regular auctions do sell the "mystery" box/chest/trunk.. (During preview, you can usually inspect the contents, provided the container can be opened..) And seems there are some mystery locked boxes in this auction too. Look at lot 1480 for example.

    But, 15% buyers premium for web buyers ? Wow.. And the place doesn’t accept paypal or other web payment ? Stone age, my friend. Stone age. I’m sure somewhere like e-bay would be happy to help them out, but that might hike the buyers premium to 20% or more.

    Wonder what’s really on the video here ? I doubt someone would keep that video in the safe deposit unless they’d taped over it with something more worthy of protecting.. Or more incriminating.. It’s the Zapruder film of the 80s ?

  6. nathan_works says:

    (Dumb side question: What’s the auto-policy on links in a comment ? When I pulled one link to the auction, my post went through, but with two links, it wouldn’t post, and I got no error msg.. Assuming I haven’t triple or more posted..)

  7. with two links, it wouldn’t post

    I’m guessing this is the heuristic spam detector misfiring.

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