Woman Discovers Rare Find In Family Piano

Source: Unsplash/Chris Liverani / Atlas Obscura

Everyone always dreams of hearing from a long-lost relative who has an inheritance to bestow. Something like that would change most people’s lives, though for the majority of people, it’s a pipe dream. For one woman, though, not only is it a reality, but she’s cashing in.

Introducing: Ellen

Ellen Kelly was a woman who lived in Westernport, Maryland. She worked as a clerk at West Virginia’s Potomac Valley Hospital for over 40 years, where she built dozens of relationships with clients and fellow hospital workers alike.

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As a young woman, Ellen was fascinated by music. She loved to play piano, and before she grew up, her fondest dream was to become a professional pianist and give others the same love and joy of music that she herself had.

Aunt Nora’s Piano

One of the driving factors behind Ellen wanting to learn how to play piano was her Aunt Nora. Nora had a beautiful piano in her house, one that Ellen would stare at for hours when she would visit, wishing that she could play.

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Aunt Nora was a particular woman, though. Despite the fact that she knew how much her niece wanted to play the piano, she refused to let Ellen lay a finger on it. It seemed strict to Ellen, but it was simply a rule that Aunt Nora had, and she couldn’t argue with it.

The Piano Was Never Played

When she got a little older, Ellen stated that she never remembered that piano being played. It was beautiful, yes, and Ellen admired it, yes. But Aunt Nora was firm in her rules, and it wasn’t just with Ellen.

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Aunt Nora even went so far as to tell anyone who wanted to play the piano that it was not for playing, only for looking at. Like Ellen, it probably seemed odd to many, but nobody would argue with Aunt Nora.

Once Aunt Nora Was Gone…

Aunt Nora sadly passed away in 1969, and Ellen held out hope that maybe, now that her cranky aunt was gone, she would be given the opportunity to play the piano. She waited patiently, but alas, it was not meant to be.

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The piano stayed in the family, though. It was an heirloom that had been passed down through generations of the Kelly family, as Ellen would come to learn later, but it wasn’t until many years later that she discovered what was so peculiar about this particular piano.

Sentiment Doesn’t Save Space

Time passes, though, and no matter how sentimental some things might at first seem, eventually you have to make a decision about things that you want to keep, and things that you want to give away.

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As lovely as her things were, Ellen’s family realized that they couldn’t hold onto Aunt Nora’s possessions forever. There was some hubbub about what to do with everything, but ultimately they decided to clear out the house with an estate sale.

The Best $25 She Ever Spent

Ellen knew that this was finally her chance to own the piano that she had coveted for so many years. With so many items going up for purchase in the estate sale, it was simply a matter of waiting for the piano to come up to sale, and place the winning bid.

Source: Pexels/ Karolina Grabowska

Ellen’s family was thrilled that the piano was going to be staying in the family, especially since they all knew how much Ellen liked it. Ellen, of course, was overjoyed, and only paid $25 to purchase the piano to keep for herself.

A Momentous Occasion

Ellen was thrilled that after so many years, she finally had the piano that she had coveted in her possession. She brought it home, and the first thing that she did was sit down to give the old instrument a spin.

Source: Pexels/ Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

This is where Ellen discovered something odd about the piano. It sounded a little off, a little out of tune. Additionally, one of the pedals was stuck, and Ellen was crushed that the piano she had wanted for so many years had problems.

Ellen Was Determined

Still, Ellen wasn’t one to just give up when things got difficult. Her journey to buying the piano alone was proof of that. She was convinced that all the piano needed was a good tune-up, and it would be playing as good as new before anybody knew it.

Source: Pixabay/ Dariusz Sankowski

She called a friend of hers who was skilled at fixing instruments, and he came over right away. The first thing that he attempted to fix was the stuck pedal, and when he got down to take a closer look at the part of the instrument, he noticed that there was a mysterious shape underneath the pedal, blocking it.

A Hidden Collection

It took some maneuvering, but eventually Ellen and her friend were able to see what was under the piano. It looked like an enormous mass of paper, and they started the tedious job of starting to extract them so that the piano could play as good as new again.

Source: Unsplash/ Mick Haupt

What they started to pull out, though, was anything but a bunch of random papers. At first, Ellen wasn’t sure what it was that she was looking at. As time went on, though, she realized exactly what it was that had been stored inside of the piano all those years: a baseball card collection.

Ellen Was Utterly Baffled

By the time Ellen and her friend finished retrieving the cards, they counted and realized that there had been more than 100 baseball cards that had been hidden inside of the old piano. It was an amazing discovery, but also confusing.

Source: Unsplash/ Lorezo Spoleti

Ellen didn’t understand who would have put the baseball cards in the piano in the first place. Had it been Aunt Nora? Had that been why she was so insistent that nobody be allowed to play the piano?

Examining the Cards

Once she moved past the initial confusion of the discovery, Ellen started to look over the collection that they had found in the piano. There, she found her second major shock, aside from the existence of the collection itself.

Source: Flickr/ Elizabeth M

Many of the cards seemed pretty standard, but one card in particular stood out from the rest. Though not a baseball fan herself, Ellen was able to recognize the player card for the famous Babe Ruth, and set it aside, assuming that it was probably worth some money. She had no idea what it was that was in her possession, though.

Ellen Had a Rookie Card

Ellen quickly realized that the Babe Ruth card that she held looked different than other cards that she had seen of his. Firstly, he looked younger than in his other cards, and secondly, he wasn’t listed as a hitter, which is the position that he became so famous for in his later career.

Source: Flickr/ Sterling G.

It didn’t take long for Ellen to realize that what she had discovered was a Babe Ruth rookie card. The photo was likely from around 1914, prior to his signing with the Boston Red Sox. He signed in 1915, setting off the career that he became so famous for in sports history. It’s an incredibly rare discovery, and Ellen knew that she had to have the card valued, to see how much it was worth.

Years to Decide What to Do

This didn’t happen for many years. Ellen stored the entire baseball collection in a safety deposit box for years, to ensure that the cards would remain safe until she knew how she wanted to disseminate the collection. As she got on in years, she realized that she needed to sell the collection, so she brought on a friend to help with the sale.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her friend helped her to get the card collection appraised. It turned out that the cards were all slightly bent in the middle from the years of having the piano on top of them, damaging their value. Still, they were appraised highly, with the Babe Ruth card being appraised at approximately $75,000 on its own.

The Cards Sold For Even More

When the cards were finally put up for auction, though, the Babe Ruth card took home even more than the tentative appraisal. The ultimate going price for the card was $130,000! The rest of the cards sold as a collection, and garnered another $4400 on top of the price of the Babe Ruth card.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ellen was baffled, stunned, and thrilled. Though she was a little sad that the cards had been damaged in their time under the piano, she couldn’t deny what a wild ride the entire story had been. She had spent $25 on a piano that had been in her family for years, and walked away with nearly $150,000, a piano she loved, and a killer story to share for the rest of her life.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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