Reddit user cluckinho inherited a truly priceless heirloom when he discovered that a veritable treasure chest had been hiding in his Grandpa’s garage for years. The battered old trunk was only uncovered after his Grandpa’s death, and none of the family even knew it existed. When they prized it open, they lifted the lid on a fascinating character and the remarkable era in which he lived.
The chest was so old that it was falling apart at the seams. One of the hinges even snapped when, at long last, its heavy hood was finally levered open.
The trunk revealed a beautiful display of artwork. Its interior was exquisitely adorned with delicate paintings and patterns, but, alas, the original artist remains a mystery.
The top shelf of the chest contained two closed compartments that were also impressively bedecked. And lying inside, the family discovered dozens of historical artifacts, some dating back to the early 1900s.
A whole heap of financial letters and official correspondence littered the top deck, as well as bundles of private letters. But, interestingly, it wasn’t Grandpa’s name on the front of the envelopes.
The old bank checks and handwritten notes were addressed to someone called J. C. Malone – Grandpa’s Grandpa. It transpired that it was Malone rather than Grandpa who had packed away most of the trunk’s keepsakes, only for them to be unearthed more than a century later by his great great grandchildren.
Great Great Grandpa J. C. Malone was a farmer who owned land in Portales, New Mexico and also worked in Oklahoma. His trunk contained several old farming relics that offer a fascinating glimpse into early 20th-century agricultural America.
Inside are admission tokens to an agricultural trade show in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. An annotated guide to farming by the John Deer tractor company, meanwhile, is just one of a number of unusual antique books that Malone stored in his chest.
Perhaps the most fascinating title in Malone’s book collection is this 1911 edition of The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. The hulking tome was written by religious visionary Ellen White, who was a founding member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The huge chronicle depicts the age-old battle between good and evil with the help of some incredibly vivid illustrations. Even the edges of the pages have been decorated in marbled colors.
Similarly fascinating illustrations can be found in Briton and Boer in South Africa, a detailed exploration of the Second Boer War, which was fought between 1899 and 1902. The first-edition copy found in the trunk was published in 1900, when the war was still being waged.
Malone was also a socialist and the trunk housed a number of party mementos. The farmer owned a socialist workers’ pin and $10 worth of shares in a socialist newspaper. The Socialist Party was just one of a number of intriguing organizations that J. C. Malone ascribed to.
A membership certificate for the Home Relief Association, for example, is dated May 16, 1905. Malone was also part of the Anti Horse Theft Association, which by 1916 had gathered as many as 50,000 members. Some of Malone’s other allegiances, however, were kept more under wraps.
Unbeknown to his family, J. C. Malone was a freemason. In his trunk he hid away a range of intriguing masonic memorabilia, including a manual from a lodge in Texas and a postcard from a temple in Chicago. And Malone wasn’t just any freemason either.
This 10-karat gold ring denotes membership to the Scottish Rite, an advanced sect of freemasons. A Latin inscription inside reads, “Whom virtue unites, death will not separate.”
An old Colt gun box had also been packed away in the trunk. While the legendary revolver of the American Mid-West was missing, a single bullet remained. There were three leather pouches too — possibly used for chewing tobacco — and three pairs of very unusual spectacles.
These blue glasses may have been used in a shooting range, but there’s also a chance Malone used them to decipher secret letters written in invisible ink. And hidden among the historical artifacts, the family discovered pieces of more sentimental value too.
Malone had kept a charming homemade Christmas card from his daughter Ella, and a letter from a friend enquiring about his ill health. But while we never find out what his ailments were, his chest does include two rather curious early 20th-century medical treatments.
Buried in the belly of the trunk was a truss-like device called an “Easyhold Rupture Appliance.” It was most likely used to provide support and relief from hernias around the groin. Malone’s mini medicine cabinet even contained a bottle of supposedly “magic” potion.
Liquozone was a sulphuric acid solution widely advertised in the 1900s as a potent germ killer and miracle cure for all ills. Finally, neatly tucked away in Malone’s treasure trove, is one of the most interesting items of all.
This old European map was produced using lithography, a popular 19th century printing technique. You can see how the borders of some countries have been redrawn over the years – especially around Germany – a striking reminder of just how much the world has changed since Malone closed his treasure chest for the last time.