Suddenly it clicked…

We regularly receive large quantities of old silverware for auction. We divide the pieces into different categories, or bundles, according to their original purpose. As so often happens, I was given a bundle of silver boxes to sort.

The starting price of a bundle of items is usually lower than the actual value of the raw material: a few hundred euros at the most. This makes people more likely to bid on it.

As I was going through the boxes, I noticed one silver cigarette case that was far heavier than the others. I couldn’t work out why – it seemed no different from the other items. I examined the silver hallmark, but it didn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary.

Marc Wegner

  • Vintage Posters (pre 1970)
  • Historical Packaging and Advertising
  • Toy Collectibles

“Suddenly it clicked…and it clicked in my head, too. As if by magic, the bottom of the box gave way to reveal a secret compartment.


The next morning, I went over the previous day’s submissions as usual. I held the cigarette case in my hand again. There has to be a reason for its weight, I thought. Considering the price of silver back in 1900, no one would ever use twice the amount they needed for no reason. Suddenly it clicked…and it clicked in my head, too. As if by magic, the bottom of the box gave way to reveal a secret compartment.


Hidden underneath was an erotic enamel painting of the quality even trained eyes only rarely get to see. And because it had hardly been laid eyes on, it was in absolutely perfect condition.

For collectors of such rare items, this was the event of the century! The seller was more than a bit surprised when the item went to auction. That one case earned him €5,500 – more than 200 ordinary pieces of silverware put together.