State plans auction of unclaimed property

Baseball signed by Babe Ruth
A baseball signed by Babe Ruth is among the items for sale this week at an auction of unclaimed property from safe deposit boxes in Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Silvia Foster-Frau

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Bidders will have the chance this week to buy unclaimed items found in Minnesota safe deposit boxes. The state Department of Commerce opens its vault every 10 years and makes the items available for auction.

A wide variety of items, including World War II-era daggers and a homestead document signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, will be available, said auctioneer Mike Schultz.

Among the most valuable are a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and a 19-karat gold wristwatch.

Also, he said: "You may not've seen one before or had a chance to touch it, but ... in the auction we have four $1,000 bills. And so they're not even in circulation anymore today -- you can't find $1,000 bills -- so these are really fun."

Document signed by President Ulysses S. Grant
A homestead document signed by President Ulysses S. Grant is among the items for sale this week at an auction of unclaimed property from Minnesota safe deposit boxes.
MPR Photo/Silvia Foster-Frau

It's difficult to judge the true worth of some of the items, Schultz said.

"If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what's its value?" he said. "This is a Chinese snuff jar, and it is highly carved jade and extremely rare. This snuff jar might sell for a thousand dollars; there were several in the last three weeks that sold in the $35,000 - $40,000 bracket. So it depends on who's involved and who sees the value in it."

Schultz Auctioneers of Upsala, Minn., will auction of the contents of about 5,000 safe deposit boxes at the Sheraton Minneapolis West Hotel in Minnetonka. A preview of the items is scheduled for Wednesday, and the auction begins Thursday.

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